Harper Lee wrote one of the great classics of American literature “To Kill a Mockingbird”. The characters in the book have endeared themselves to generations of American readers. It won a Pulitzer Prize and became a standard reading for many schools.

The Legend of Atticus Finch

The novel is written from the point of view of Scout, which is a character that Lee loosely based on herself. The work is actually semiautobiographical, with most of the characters and events in it having counterparts in real life. Using her father as a basis Lee created one of the most memorable characters in American fiction, Atticus Finch.

Atticus is a lawyer in the fictional place of Maycomb County, Alabama. Though fictional, Maycomb County could have been anywhere in the South at that time. Decades have passed after the Civil War but people were still divided along racial lines. Blacks were still considered to be inferior and everyone accepted that as a fact of life. No one really questioned the fact that society is sharply divided along racial lines.

In the novel Atticus represented a black man in court who was accused of raping a white woman. In those days a black person accused of anything like that is liable to get lynched even before he could stand trial, but Atticus stood up for the black man and faced down the whole mob who wanted to lynch the accused. The whole town resented Atticus but at the same time they respected him. They knew that he was a lot better than any of them and that he has the courage to face down a whole crowd of angry white men. Racists or not, they know a man when they see one.

The Best That Man Can Be

The great thing about Atticus is that he was always so decent and the way that he acted with other people. He showed the same degree of respect no matter whom he met. He talked in the same way that he talked with his children as he did with old ladies in the neighbourhood. Even when someone insults him or literally spits in his face he does not choose to fight back. He was still as respectable as he can be.

He was the same person on the street as when he was inside the house. Most people would deal with people in different ways depending on the people that they are facing. Not Atticus though, he never saw the need for changing his attitude.

The Moral Courage

Atticus has the right amount of moral courage. There was no doubt that he had physical courage and a lot of it. Facing down that lynching mob is no job for a baby but he knew that moral courage is even more important than just being able to do the macho stuff that some people associate with being brave.

Finally Atticus was perhaps the best kind of father that children could have. He tolerated his children’s quirks and he never raised his voice at them.