In To Kill a Mockingbird, Atticus is a lawyer in the town of Maycomb and the father of Scout and Jem.
He is criticized by his neighbors for many things such as the way he raises his Children. He is especially criticized for his tom-boy daughter Scout. He does not care what they think and teaches his children to do the same. In the novel, Atticus is the voice of reason and justice for the town of Maycomb and for his family as well. Throughout the book, Atticus shows characteristics of being humble and being accepting towards African Americans, unlike everyone else in the town. He is a humble man and is appointed to defend an African American man, Tom Robinson, who is accused of raping and beating Mayella Ewell.
In the time period the book is set in, if a black man is accused of raping a white woman then he is guilty no matter what. Everyone in the town of Maycomb believes Tom is guilty; Atticus does not and he tries to prove this to the rest of the town. Atticus is a fair, patient and honest man and he truly cares for his children. Scout questions her father about Mrs. Dubose calling Atticus a “nigger-lover”, most people in the town would have ignored their child and would have told them to forget about it, but Atticus wanting his children to be able to trust him tells Scout what he really thinks about that word. Atticus says, “Nigger-lover is just one of those terms that don’t mean anything—-like snot-nose. It’s hard to explain—-ignorant, trashy people use it when they think somebody’s favoring Negroes over and above themselves.
It’s slipped into usage with people like ourselves when they want a common, ugly term to label somebody” (Lee 144). This goes to show that Atticus truly does not care what his neighbors think and he wants his daughter to learn not to use nasty words like “Nigger-lover”.Atticus, being the voice of reason in the town, tries to show the jury that Tom Robinson is innocent. Robert Ewell is the main reason that Tom Robinson is in court, he says that he saw Tom raping and beating his daughter then fleeing after being caught. Mayella confirms most of what her father had said and she adds that she invited Robinson in to break up a piece of furniture. However, she says that after the rape, her father asked her who had done it: “.
..next thing I knew Papa was in the room a’standing over me hollerin’ who done it, who done it?”(Lee 242) This contradicts Mr. Ewell’s testimony, as he claimed to have actually seen Tom Robinson raping Mayella.
Atticus continuously asks Mayella the same questions and the testimony begins to falter. He asks, “who beat you up? Tom Robinson or your father” (Lee 251). Mayella does not answer him, there is reason to believe that Tom Robinson did not beat Mayella because “His left arm was fully twelve inches shorter than his right, and hung dead at his side. It ended in a small shriveled hand, and from as far away as the balcony I could see that it was no use to him” (Lee 248). It is evident that tom did not do what he was accused of; in the end, Atticus’ hard efforts fall short because Tom Robinson is later pronounced guilty and shot seventeen times trying to escape prison. Atticus tries his hardest to beat the discrimination in the town by proving a point but his efforts fall upon deaf ears. Fortunately, his children do learn that their father is a great, humble and honest man and they become more appreciative of him.