To Kill A Mockingbird Essay

1514 words - 7 pages

What defines a good parent? Who defines a good parenting style? Society, through parenting books and magazines, has discussed this at length, and there are obviously varied opinions. There are certain attributes that are generally used consistently to define a good parenting style. It is not discipline or respect, but the characteristics that stand out for a good parent are trust, love, listening and understanding. Love gives confidence and makes people what they want to be. In Harper Lee’s book “To Kill a Mockingbird”, these key attributes are used to define the parenting style of Atticus, the father of the 2 children, Jem and Scout. I believe that the author has defined a good parent as someone who loves his/her children unconditionally, communicates openly with them, someone who is there for them, some one who teaches good morals and values, and someone who shows them right from wrong. Harper Lee has intelligently demonstrated these characteristics by contrasting the parenting styles of Atticus (the good parent) vs. Bob Ewell, who plays the role of the antagonist in the book, and is portrayed as a bad parent. Both of these men are single parents, and the book therefore does not have much opportunity to view the role of the mother in the upbringing of the children. To illustrate this, the author has cleverly used the examples of 2 women, Calpurnia and Aunt Alexandra, to share her thoughts on the importance of a woman’s role in a child’s life. Though these women are not the biological mothers for Jem and Scout, they care deeply for them. In their own ways, they do their best to teach the children the right values of life. In the following paragraphs, we will review in more detail the parenting styles of these characters, and their conformance to our definition of a good parent.
In the book, Atticus is shown as a wise and sensible man, who is committed to justice and equality. He is a role model to his children, and his parenting style and behavior reflects these values. For example, he encourages his children, Jem and Scout, to call him "Atticus" so that they can interact on equal terms with him. He is shown as a kind and loving father, who reads to his children and offers them comfort when they need it. At the same time, he also teaches them the importance of courage, compassion, trust and respect. One of the most powerful quotes in the book “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.” (pg.39). Atticus uses these words to explain to his daughter the importance of empathy and compassion, and to put yourself in another person’s shoes to understand their view point. While Atticus uses these words to specifically explain to Scout about her new teacher’s behavior in class, he wanted his children to remember this about human behavior in general, especially as it related to the racial discrimination and prejudice at the time in...

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