‘To kill a mocking bird’ is set in the mid-1930s in Maycomb, a very prejudiced and inward-looking town. Discuss the ways in which Atticus stands up as a man of reason and courage within this very traditional and backward looking environment.
In the novel ‘To kill a Mocking Bird’ Atticus is a very respectable character. He is reputable lawyer who stands up to fight against the traditions of Maycomb County. Atticus Finch fights for what he believes is morally right. Atticus is not prejudiced over colour or wealth. He respects all people needlessly regarding their colour, wealth or stature. Atticus lives in a small town called Maycomb. Maycomb is a ‘tired old town’. The citizens of Maycomb are very traditional and prejudiced people they detest any form of change.
Maycomb is very narrow-minded town as most of the town folk follow traditional and prejudiced ways. The town folk follow these ways as many decades ago white people used blacks as slaves, so Maycomb use this as a tradition. In Maycomb the public do not stand for people of different backgrounds. You have to be white and rich to fit into Maycomb.
The author of ‘To Kill A Mocking Bird’ is Harper Lee. She wrote this book in the late 1960s but it is set in the 1930s. The novel is based on her childhood town, which is a typical southern town.
Nevertheless blacks gained their human rights and freedom from whites over time. Although Maycomb is somewhat an era behind they still treat blacks like slaves of a lower class stature. In Maycomb the main aspects are your status, background and colour.
Maycomb is measured as a long-established town. On Sundays the ladies bathe and everyone goes to church. But the Radley’s don’t they are the only family that resist going to church. They pray at home. Most residents of Maycomb go to Church to gossip and socialise; only a minority go to pray. For most residents of Maycomb the only reason they go to church is to preserve their high status or to increase it.
The ladies of Maycomb are subjected to do nothing during the ay apart from gossiping and making themselves come across as attractive for their husbands. In Maycomb the tradition differs some are that women ‘bathed before noon’ and by nightfall are like ‘soft teacakes’ smelling like ‘sweet talcum’.
In Maycomb everyone knows each other it known as a tight knit community. The Finches are placed in top half of the Maycomb hierarchy however the Cunningham’s are white but they are at the bottom of this hierarchy system although they are still higher than the blacks as they are white. Traditions in Maycomb are part of an everyday system. Everybody knows one and other. Most people in Maycomb can work the family history of each other and everybody knows each other’s job status and colour. Most of Maycomb are suggested to be nearly ‘blood related’ to each other.
A majority of Maycomb society believe in all the past traditions and prejudices as the whites still treat the blacks with no respect. Throughout the generation of whites, most of them have come to think that ‘all Negroes lie, all Negroes are basically immoral beings, all Negro men are not to be trusted around our women’.
Atticus however opposes this unjust tradition of racist beliefs. He portrays this by uplifting the case of Tom Robinson, a black man accused of raping a white girl, May Ella Ewell. Atticus tries to fight against the tradition of ill-treating blacks but he can’t change all traditions. But Atticus managed to say, ‘I couldn’t go to church and worship God if I didn’t try to help that man’.
Traditions in Maycomb are not rational but to its citizens it is a way of life. It is what the people follow and gain satisfaction out of.
Your significance within Maycomb and family history in the town certifies your importance in the community.
Aunt Alexandra, Atticus Finches sister, is typical Maycomb resident as she only takes to mind those who are white and have an importance in the town. Aunt Alexandra refers to the Cunningham’s as not ‘our kind of folks’. She believes that a high rank family like the Finches’ shouldn’t mix with low class people such as the Cunningham’s.
A. Alexandra has her share of secrets to hide though. She hides well the fact that cousin Joshua ‘went round the bend in University’ and ‘tried to shoot the president’.
Alexandra believes that Scout and Jem should learn the importance of ‘the family and what it’s meant to Maycomb County through the years. A. Alexandra tries to teach her nephew and niece about the family name and how background certifies you a better rank in Maycomb.
Atticus and A. Alexandra have different opinions on people.
Aunt Alexandra chooses her friends through their class and upbringing whereas Atticus chooses his friends through loyalty and truthfulness.
Racism is a strong factor in Maycomb. The white nation treat the black nation like trash although they do not understand that the blacks are equal to themselves. Blacks traditionally were segregated from whites; this tradition still is in existence in Maycomb County.
Violence is a main factor the whites express their hatred of blacks. This is shown when the lynch mob go down to the jailhouse to try and to kill Tom Robinson.
Although not in an obvious way the missionary women are also a racist group. They consign to black people as ‘sulky darky’ people. These women are very prejudiced as they think that blacks are not able to be literate as they say, ‘we can educate ’em till we’re blue in the face’.
The missionary women are not only racist, prejudice but they are also hypocrite as they were eating cakes that were prepared by a black fully literate woman, Calpurnia.
When Aunt Alexandra came to stay with Atticus she tried persuading him to sack Calpurnia, as she is so obsessed with image. She uses the excuse that it is corrupting Scout’s mind. ‘You have a daughter to think of, who is growing up’.
Atticus makes Calpurnia feel like a member of the family as she almost fills in the gap of not having a mother for Scout and Jem.
Racism is taken very hard when it is mixed. For example Mr Dolphus Raymond he is a man who married a black women and ahs ‘mixed children’ to stop excessive gossip and torment he used alcohol as his excuse. So the folks of Maycomb think that the reason he married a black was because he was drunk.
People can’t help using an excuse to anything that is different, like the case of Mr Dolphus Raymond they use his alcoholic problem as his excuse. But Mr Dolphus Raymond actually doesn’t drink heavily; he simply carries a brown paper bag so people assume he has a bottle constant alcohol refill in it.
Atticus is a principled man, who earns his respect from people from being a kind, truthful and nice man. He respects all people with the same quality; he does not favour anyone. He believes in equality between blacks and whites.
Atticus tries to educate his children with a rational and views that are not prejudice or traditional in Maycomb. He tries to teach his children to have a free mind and to think for them and not be taken in by ill-bred prejudice.
An act of courage that even eventually impressed Aunt Alexandra was to take up the case of Tom Robinson, as he believed he could contribute a tiny step to change in Maycomb County.
Atticus believes that ‘in our courts all men are created equal’ in and out of his workplace. Atticus carries this little piece of information with him wherever he goes. During the court case of Tom Robinson Atticus reveal this phrase to the jury but no one understand what he is trying to perceive. Atticus tries to bring light to the jurors prejudice ways but he does not succeed.
There are other people like Atticus who are also rational minded. Miss Maudie is an example of one of these people. She believes that “we’re paying the highest tribute we can pay a man’.
Atticus strongly regards his views that all men are equal should be broadened although he lost the case he still thinks he has a chance at making people in Maycomb change their old-fashioned ways.
To conclude this essay I must say that I believe that Atticus is a strong willed person who wants to make his point made clear. Atticus teaches his children moral attitudes to life. He brings out the prejudice attitudes, which need to change. A quote that I will never forget and always cherish is that ‘you never really understand a person until you climb into his skin and walk around’. This little piece of advice is almost the best piece of advice you could ever give someone.
From Atticuss’ viewpoint he has shown that Maycomb is very backward. He has shown that there are people who differ from the vast majority of others. Atticus has shown us that Maycomb will need a lot of different tactics to try and change the prejudice and traditional ways. Atticus has taught me that people can change their ways if they want to.
Atticus mean ‘philosopher’ I think it is a suitable and rather good name to describe the personality of Atticus.