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I chose to write about Atticus Finch and his influences on his daughter Scout. I see Atticus as a very admirable character and one that I would use as a role model for the parenting skills I hope to have one day.
As a father, parenting can be one of the most challenging jobs a person undertakes. There are many qualities that are necessary to be a good parent. In To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, there are numerous characters that appear as parental figures. Atticus is the most important parental figure to Scout because he teaches her critical life lessons, raises her in an unbiased environment, and provides her with unconditional love.
Throughout this novel, Atticus shows Scout what is important in life by teaching her timely lessons. Scout, at the age of six, is beginning to make observations and judgments of others. Atticus wants Scout to think about things from a perspective other than her own. He tells her, "You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view; until you climb in his skin and walk around in it." Atticus believes that without realizing a person's situation, it is impossible to determine anything significant about them. If Scout decides to follow his advice, she will be less likely to make rash, negative opinions about others and will be more empathic to everyone around her.
After Jem, her brother, went back to the Radley house to retrieve his pants, he was very quiet the rest of the week. Scout chooses to follow the teaching of her father. "I tried to climb into Jem's skin and walk around in it. If I had gone alone to the Radley place at two in the morning, my funeral would have been the next afternoon." By "climbing into Jem's skin" Scout is beginning to look at things from his perspective.
As Scout matures, she puts herself in many other characters' places, such as Boo Radley, Mayella Ewell, and Tom Robinson. Atticus effectively teaches her the lesson of empathy.
Another important lesson that Atticus teaches Scout is that of "real courage." Scout, along with her brother Jem, had been regularly visiting Mrs. Dubose after school. They both thought poorly of her and dreaded their daily visits. Atticus always respected Mrs. Dubose. He wants to reveal to his children the reason why he admired her, "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."
Mrs. Dubose is a morphine addict. She is intent on dying free of the drug. This is exactly what happened and Mrs. Dubose "won." Through Mrs. Dubose's courage, Atticus shows Scout that being courageous is following through with a commitment or life challenge. Exposing Scout to this idea will give her more determination in life. Atticus is teaching Scout that it is commendable to be courageous in pursuing your goals.
The unbiased environment Atticus creates for Scout influences her not to discriminate against others. Atticus strives to make Scout an open-mined person and, unlike most other parents in Maycomb, he tries to prevent her from being prejudiced.
When Atticus talks to Uncle Jack about the Tom Robinson trial, he expresses to him his concerns, "You know what's going to happen as well as I do, Jack, and I hope and pray I can get Jem and Scout through it without catching Maycomb's usual disease." The "usual disease" in Maycomb is racism.
Due to his involvement in the Tom Robinson case, Atticus fears that his children might be persuaded to judge African Americans poorly. Atticus tries to prevent the negative influences of others in the town from affecting Scout. Just as Atticus tries to protect Scout from racism, he protects his children and the town from the "mad dog."
It is important that Atticus expresses his feelings about discrimination at home because children are greatly influenced by their parents and their beliefs. "As you grow older, you'll see white men cheat black men everyday 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 tells Scout that it is never acceptable for anyone to treat African Americans unkindly, no matter whom that person might be. He sets a positive example for Scout with his beliefs. This motivates Scout to follow in her father's footsteps and not judge others unfairly.
Finally, Atticus is a loving father and shows true compassion for Scout throughout this book. After Scout's first day of school, she is very distressed about the happenings with Miss Caroline, her teacher. Atticus comforts Scout as she tells him the events of the day. Scout comes to the conclusion that she does not want to go back to school again. To help make Scout feel better and encourage her to go back to school, Atticus proposes a compromise. "If you'll concede the necessity of going to school, we'll go on reading every night just as we always have." Atticus is concerned about Scout's problems and successfully attempts to solve them. He promises to Scout that they can read every night, which is something special they can do together. This proves that Atticus is willing to take time out of his day to simply be with his daughter.
Later, when Scout is frustrated with Jem's inconsistent moods, she approaches Atticus about her problem. She describes Atticus' response, that Jem was growing, and she must be patient and disturb him as little as possible." Atticus consoles Scout during a time when she is being left out and is upset. He once again gives her useful suggestions about her problems.
Atticus is being an admirable parent to listen to Scout's problem and support her during a hard time. Through teaching Scout essential life lessons, raising her in an open-minded atmosphere, and genuinely caring for her, Atticus appears as the primary parental figure in To Kill a Mockingbird. These qualities are essential for all effective parents. It is important to learn about what is necessary to be a good parent since most of us will have children some day. By observing and evaluating others' parenting, one can become a better parent. Although many challenges and struggles come along with raising children, most parents believe it to be an incredible experience, unlike any other.