What is Atticus’ role in the novel?
Atticus has many roles in the novel, and conveys many themes of the book which he preaches through his words and actions. Three of Atticus’ main roles in the novel are tolerance, fortitude, and benevolence. Throughout the novel, Atticus behaves like a perfect role model, and Harper Lee brings out many different aspects of his character through what he does and says.
Harper Lee conveys the importance of tolerance to the reader, by creating the character Atticus, who teaches his children about tolerance, and displays it through his words and actions. An example of Atticus’ tolerance is the way he treats Mrs Dubose. Mrs Dubose call Atticus filthy names, and detests his many views about equality and justice. Her tongue is acidic, and she is quick to insult any of the Finches. Atticus, however, treats her like a fine Southern lady and sees past her cantankerous demeanour. When Atticus, Jem and Scout walk by her house, Atticus says, “Good evening Mrs Dubose! You look like a picture this evening.” He compliments Mrs Dubose, even though he knows that she is constantly insulting him and his family, he can tolerate this. Not only is Atticus kind to her by sending Jem to help her in the final moments of her life, but is understanding of her and her morphine addiction. He is gallant and respectful of Mrs Dubose and maintains a sense of gentility when talking to as well as about Mrs Dubose. An examples of this is when he tells Jem that Mrs Dubose was “the bravest person I ever knew.” This is an incredibly tolerant viewpoint of a bitter lady who was insulting and rude to him.
He is again tolerant to Walter Cunningham Senior on the night before Tom Robinson’s trial. While Atticus guards the prison, Mr Cunningham comes with his mob to lynch Tom. Atticus acts calmly and refuses to stand aside. After Scout calms down the situation, Mr Cunningham and his mob back down and leave. Scout then asks Atticus is Mr Cunningham was still their friend. Atticus explains his tolerance to her by saying that “Mr Cunningham’s basically a good man… he just has his blind spots along with the rest of us.” He speaks well of tolerantly of Mr Cunningham, even though Mr Cunningham threatened and spoke rudely to Atticus.
Atticus us also tolerant to Walter Cunningham Junior, when he is invited home for lunch by Jem. Walter Cunningham does not have many friends, and in Maycomb, the Cunninghams have a very low socioeconomic status. However, Atticus does not muscle people on their social status, class or skin colour. Walter has no eating etiquette and drenches his dinner in syrup, when Scout calls him out on this, Atticus is patient and kind. Instead of letting Scout embarrass Walter, he is patient but does not tell Scout off to embarrass her as well, “Atticus shook his head at me (Scout) again.” This helps Calpurnia understand, therefore she asks for Scout’s presence in the kitchen so that she can explain hospitality to Scout. Atticus is kind as he...