Learning To Be More Like Atticus
What would Atticus do?
Atticus Finch has become a model of integrity and courage, a moral compass who can help us find our way through difficult terrain.
But who is he?
Atticus Finch is the main character in Harper Lee’s book To Kill a Mockingbird.
He is a respected lawyer in his community and he is assigned by a local judge to defend a black man accused of raping a young white woman. Atticus does just that and proves beyond any doubt that the young black man, Tom Robinson, could not have been guilty of rape.
However, even though Atticus proves Tom innocent, the jury make their decision of guilty for one simple reason – Tom is black and the victim is white. Here Harper Lee illustrates the tragic fate of a mockingbird in society.
A mockingbird in society is someone who continuously helps people and does good things, but gets unfairly discriminated against in spite of this.
The central message of this outstanding book come from Atticus Finch – he believes it is wrong to kill mockingbirds because all they do is sing beautiful songs and never harm anyone.
Atticus can also teach us a thing or two about parenting. Allan (2018) even suggests that Harper Lee’s masterpiece “is a parenting manual punctuated by moments of courtroom drama.”
He is the widowed father of Scout and Jem and he is their friend, confidant and teacher. Scout and Jem call him by his first name rather than “father”.
Atticus is a kind, genuine, honest and courageous man who is not afraid to deal with difficult situations.
He leads with a quiet dignity and leads by example, both in his community and in bringing up his children. One of the key life skills he teaches his children is learning how to empathise with others and looking for the best qualities in them even when it is most challenging to do so.
There is one scene in the book that hits hard – Atticus is spit upon by a man angry at him for representing a black man in a rape trial.
To his 6 year-old daughter Scout, he says,
If you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you’ll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view – until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.
Empathy is the key to understanding others and Atticus presents lessons in empathy many times in relation to Scout’s schoolmates, her teacher, the mob outside the courthouse, and the jury.
Atticus Finch was played by the magnificent Gregory Peck when the book hit the silver screen.
Atticus looked at what drove the man’s actions and appreciated that he was acting only on what he knew and believed. Atticus believed that the man wasn’t evil but only as good as his circumstances and worldview allowed him to be.
To Kill A Mocking Bird is full of life lessons and Atticus is the teacher we can all look to and all aspire to be more like.
To Kill a Mockingbird was was released as a film in 1962, two years after the publication of the novel. The black and white movie adaptation was directed by Robert Mulligan and starred Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch.