Atticus Finch.

Harper Lee is a well-known modern American writer, a lawyer by
profession. She was born in the State of Alabama. In 1960 she received
the Pulitzer Prize for her novel «To Kill a Mockingbird», wich was
translated into twelve languages soon after it appeared. The novel deals
with the family of a barrister, Atticus Finch. His wife had died and he,
together with his cook, an old Negro woman, Calpurnia, drings up his son
Jem and daughter Jean Louise, whose nickname is Scout. The novel
contains autobiographic features, but it is a sociological and
psychological novel.

The story of the Finches is told by the eight-year-old girl Jean. The
action is laid in the town of Maycomb in the South. The time is the
thirties. Jean is a very observant girl: «Maycomb was an old town, but
it was a tired old when. I first knew it. In rainy weather the streets
turned to red slop; grass grew on the sidewalks, the courthouse sagged
in the square. Somehow, it was notter then: a black dog suffered on a
summer’s day; bony mules hitched to Hoover carts flicked flies in the
sweltering shade of the live oaks on the square. Men’s stiff collars
wilted by nine in the morning. Ladies bathed before noon, after their
three-o’clock naps and by nightfall were like soft teacakes with
frostings of sweat and sweet talcum.»

Atticus Finch «went to Montgomery to read law, and his younger brother
went to Boston to study medicine. Their sister Alexandra was the Finch
who remained at the Landing…». When Finch was admitted to the bar, he
returned to Maycomb and began practice there. «During his first five
years in Maycomb, Atticus practiced economy more than anything; for
several years thereafter he invested his earnings in his brother’s
education. John Hall Finch was ten years younger than my father, and
chose to study medicine at a time when cotton was not worth growing; but
after getting Uncle Jack started, Atticus derived a reasonable income
from the law. He likedMaycomb, he was Maycomb County born and bred; he
knew his people, they knew him”. Finch is nearle fifty, he wears
glasses. “He was nearly blind in his eye, and said left eyes were the
tribal curse of the Finches.» In Scout’s opinion her father didn’t do
anything. «He worked in an office, not in a drugstore. Atticus did not
drive a dump-truck for the county, he was not the sheriff, he did not
farm, work in a garage, or do anything that could possibly arouse the
admiration of anyone… He did not do the things our schoolmates’
fathers did: he never went hunting, he did not play poker or fish or
drink or smoke, sat in the living-room and read.»

When Atticus Finch gave his children air-rifles, he told them it vas a
sin to kill a mockingbird. Their neighbour, Miss Maudie, explained:
«Your father’s right,» she said.»Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but
make music for us to enjoy. They don’t eat up people’s gardens, don’t
nest in corn cribs, they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out
for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.»

Mr. Finch’s kindness was not understood by people: even his own children
thought him a coward because he didn’t like hunting. When he was a young
man, he used to be the best shot of the town. He had a talent for
hitting a target at one shot, that’s why he won the nickname of
One-Shot-Finch. But he never boasted about his success. Only when
Atticus had to kill a mad dog the children learned that their father was
One-Shot-Finch. When necessary he could use a weapon, but in general he
believed it was wrong to shoot Jiving things. Miss Maudie explains
Atticus’s attitude in the following way: «I guess he decided he wouldn’t
shoot till he had to, and he had to today.”

Atticus Finch his daughter he wanted to defend an innocent worker, Tom
Robinson. «This case, Tom Robinson’s case, is something that goes to the
essence of a man’s conscience — Scout, I couldn’t go to church and
worship God if I didn’t try to help that man.

«’Atticus, you must be wrong…’

«’How’s that?’

«’Well, most folks seem to think they’re right and you’re wrong…’

«’They are certainly entitled to think that, and they’re entitled to
full respect for their opinions,’ said Atticus, ‘but before I can live
with other folks I’ve got to live with myself. The one thing that
doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience.'»

Nothing could change Finch’s decision. He used all his skill when
defending Tom Robinson in court, although he knew that he would 1ose. He
told his son Jem: «In our courts, when it’s a white man’s word against a
black man’s, the white man always wins. They’re ugly, but those are the
facts of life… As you grow older, you’ll see white men cheat black men
every day of your life, but let me tell you something and don’t you
forget it — whenever a white man does that to a black man, no matter who
he is, how rich he is, or how fine a family he comes from, that white
man is trash.»

Atticus set a good example for his children. He is very modest. He
admits: «Sometimes I think I’m a total failure as a parent, but I’m all
they’ve got. Before Jem looks at anyone else he looks at me, and l’ve
tried to live so that I can look squarely back at him.» He is a tender
father and a clever teacher. «First of all,» he said, «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.» He takes every opportunity to teach his children good. He told
Jem: «I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the
idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know
you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it
through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do. Mrs.
Dubose won, all ninety-eight pounds of her. According to her views, she
died beholden1 to nothing and nobody. She was the bravest person I ever
knew.»

Atticus Finch taught his children to be strong and clever, to overcome
hard times bravely, to be just and kind, to distinguish the good from
the bad.

The whole novel is the story of Harper Lee’s childhood and her
brother’s. We enjoy their amusing adventures and games. Readers of the
novel admire the artistic taste and talent of Harper Lee, and Knowledge
of child psychology.

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