Atticus's Success As A Parent In "To Kill A Mockingbird"

1274 words - 5 pages

For many, ideals and beliefs are fostered in the home, generally influenced by one's parents. There are, however, countless young people, such as Jem and Scout, for whom this is not possible, because the only home they know is one broken by the death of a mother. In such a situation, the responsibility of the endowment of morals lies solely with the remaining parent. Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird tells of one man's struggle to impose moral character upon his children being raised in a community of malevolence. Atticus Finch strives to set forth his values "“ integrity, courage, and righteousness "“ upon Jem and Scout. Throughout the novel, he goes about doing so in several ways, generally characterized by his actions, and by the end his efforts seem successful. Atticus imposes his moral values on Scout and Jem, both by creating situations which test their moral strength and by providing his own behavior as an example, the success of which is confirmed in the ethical metamorphosis that Jem and Scout undergo during the novel.Atticus' primary goal as a parent is the instillation of his fundamental values and ethos into Scout and Jem. Perhaps the trait that is most easily seen in Atticus and that he tries hardest to pass on to his children is his passion for justice and equality. Atticus worries that Scout and Jem are exposed to racism in Maycomb, and fights to ensure that they do not fall into that pit of hatred. This fear can be seen in a conversation between Atticus and Uncle Jack, in which Atticus confesses, ""˜Why reasonable people go stark raving mad when anything involving a Negro comes up, is something I don't pretend to understand"¦I just hope that Jem and Scout come to me for their answers instead of listening to the town. I hope they trust me enough"¦'" (88) Atticus wants his children to respect all people, and to disregard racial divisions between them. He demonstrates this most clearly when asked if he is a "nigger lover" as he had been accused. To this he responds, ""˜I certainly am. I do my best to love everybody"¦'" (108) This reveals Atticus' truest feature: he, unlike most of Maycomb, looks past all differences to find humanity in every person. Equality, though, is not the only passion that Atticus wants his children to adopt.As well a love for justice, Atticus wants Scout and Jem to be amiable people. This is most evident when Atticus finds that Scout has been involved in several fights. He instructs her to ""˜...just hold your head high and keep those fists down"¦Try fighting with your head for a change...'" (80) Similarly, Atticus wants his children to learn a nobler meaning of courage. He defines it as "when you know that you're licked before you begin, but you begin anyway." (116) Amiability and courage, compounded with his ideals of equality, make up a triumvirate of values which, in Atticus' mind, compose a virtuous person. To...

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