Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird: Character, Traits & Quotes

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  • 0:01 Character & Traits
  • 1:20 Quotes
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Douglass Gunselman

Doug is currently a head middle school principal and has taught middle school/high school English/speech/computers. He has a master's degree in Educational Administration.

Atticus Finch, a protagonist in the famous Harper Lee novel ''To Kill a Mockingbird,'' is a level-headed man who faces challenges in his profession, family, and town. This lesson will help provide you with a better understanding of Atticus Finch, a man of great wisdom and character.

Character and Traits

Atticus Finch is a major character in the popular novel To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Atticus is a very even-keeled type of guy; he does not get too worked up about stressful situations. He is not affected by what other people say or think. He is consistent and rooted in his beliefs. Atticus spends most of his time as an attorney and a single father of a girl named Scout and a boy, Jem.

As an attorney, Atticus believes in what is right, even if it is not what is popular. He is faced with a very stressful case in which he has to defend Tom Robinson, an African-American man accused of raping a young white girl. Atticus is convinced Tom Robinson is innocent and will do his best to represent him, but the case is set during the Great Depression in the town of Maycomb, Alabama, where racial tensions are high. Atticus, as a white man, must defend an African-American man in a case he knows he cannot win. Atticus chooses to keep the case to do what, in his mind, he thinks is right: defend Tom Robinson.

As a parent, Atticus expects a lot from his children and treats them as his equals. He is conscientious about not only disciplining his children if necessary, but also teaching them in the moment. It is important to him that his children treat others equally and that they don't judge others based on skin color or socioeconomic status.


Let's take a look at four of Atticus Finch's more memorable quotes from the book.

'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.'

'You just hold your head high and keep those fists down. No matter what anybody says to you, don't you let 'em get your goat. Try fighting with your head for a change.'

'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.'

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