What would Atticus Finch be thankful for?

One of my favorite and most admirable characters in a fiction novel is Atticus Finch, the father and attorney in “To Kill a Mockingbird.” As we approach my favorite holiday of Thanksgiving, I was wondering what the reserved Atticus would be thankful for? Here is a man who was rolling a boulder uphill against the downhill racism that would eventually convict and kill an African-American client, Tom Robinson, during the Jim Crow era of the south.

– Atticus would be thankful for Boo Radley who saved his children’s lives from a hateful racist Bob Ewell whose actions led to the conviction of Robinson. Ewell, in a drunken stupor, attacked Scout and Jem in the woods, to pay back Finch for defending a black man against the Ewell version of the truth.

– He would be thankful for Calpurnia who was the housekeeper, cook and surrogate mother to his children. Like many in the south, Calpurnia represents the many African-American women who greatly helped southern households. Atticus would have been lost without her.

– He would be thankful for Scout’s passion. She would likely be getting into mischief the rest of her youth, but she would make errors of commission not omission. It would never be dull with Scout around.

– He would be thankful for Jem’s determination. Jem would not let his father go by himself to see the Robinson’s, nor would he and Scout let Atticus stand down the lynch mob at the jail by himself, knowing they were his protection.

– He would be thankful to his outspoken friend and kindred soul, Maude Atkinson who explained so well that Atticus was one of the people put on this world to do our unpleasant tasks. She was the spoken conscience to Atticus’ unspoken one.

– He would be thankful for Sheriff Heck Tate, who saw injustice at the hands of racism, but went quietly about doing his best to find what little justice he could for the disenfranchised.

– He would be thankful for the integrity of Tom Robinson, who in the face of lies and deceit, stood as tall as he could, until he could no longer. Robinson is the tragic figure in the story and represents a long line of African-American men who have been maltreated.

– He would be thankful for Reverend Sykes and others who found value in what Atticus did for those in need and who were stepped on because they were black. The line that makes me tear up more than any other line in a novel is when Atticus leaves the court room after fighting so hard for Robinson and Reverend Sykes tells Miss Jean Louise (Scout) to stand up with them as “your father is passing.”

True heroes do not have to carry weapons. In fact, the greater heroes are those who do not. They fight for what’s right, usually against difficult odds. I am thankful to have read and watched the movie version of Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird.” I have seen how a real hero acts.



17 thoughts on “What would Atticus Finch be thankful for?

    • Thanks Raye. Emily’s (The Bookshelf of Emily J) talking about watching this movie again on her post got me thinking about my fictitious hero Atticus. I am kicking around a tear jerker movie line post, so if you have any thoughts, please feel free to share.

  1. One of my all time favorite books. And I have held all men up to the Atticus Finch standard for more years than I can any longer count; which among other things most likely explains why I am single. And of course, my Atticus Finch, besides being the quintessential make, looks like Gregory Peck. That bar may be set a tad too high!

    • Thanks. Atticus is a tough act to follow. Atticus has made more attorneys than anyone, as people wanted to be like him. Do you have a favorite part of the movie or book?

      • I am not sure I could list even a few favorite parts, from beginning to end, I adore the book and film. Atticus’ love, bravery, compassion, devotion to all that is right and noble; he touches us on every level. I adore Miss DuBose because she is so awful in a heartbreaking sort of way. Atticus 9 minute courtroom scene in the movie was done in one take, and leaves me breathless every time I see it. When Scout is told to stand when her father passes by, I want to stand, too. It goes on and on; it is one of the best books and movies ever, in my opinion.

      • I did not know about filming that courtroom scene in one take. That is unheard of. Miss Dubose was a pill, I agree. In the book, Jem wins her over more almost as if it is a mission. The other characters who are perfect are the smart aleck DA played by William Wyndham and the judge who cannot believe this is happening, but knows the verdict before the trial starts given where and when they live. Then, there is Mr. Cunningham who has a conscience buried deep and Scout finds away to draw it out.

  2. This is one occasion where the movie comes close to the perfection of the book. This is one of those books that actually changed who I was after reading it. ♥

  3. I remember reading the book, and watching the movie, in high school. It was a really good book and they did good on the movie too. So often the movie version doesn’t come close to the book. I’d be surprised if it was still on the required reading list in high schools.

    • I agree about the movie being up to the book’s standard. It is still taught in high school. My kids had to read it. Plus, the kids gave me the movie for my birthday, so we always have it around to watch.

  4. I love this list! I can’t help but think of Atticus of somebody who is thankful for difficulty and difficult people. He seemed to be mature enough to understand that everything was a learning situation and that we shouldn’t shy away from the hard times. I love that about him, especially when it comes to his parenting style. I hope to be more grateful for the tough people and situations I face, rather than wanting to run away and play the victim. Facing this stuff head on makes us better people, even if we don’t necessarily change things. I also think he’d be thankful for the patience he has with people, because he tends to then learn the most important things about them, even when their exteriors are prickly. He’s just a great guy!

    • Emily, very good comments. I agree with your observations. I was thinking of using a variation that his challenges provide an opportunity to teach and show what injustice is. Thanks for your impetus and comments. BTG

  5. One thing I like about Atticus is that he is quiet and strong but not silent. As a lawyer, he has to speak up, and he carries that over into his family and community life. I was shocked when I saw the movie and realized it actually did the book justice. That is so rare.

  6. Note to Readers: I have the new Harper Lee book, which had been set aside at the request of the editor, who encouraged Lee to eventually write “To Kill a Mockingbird.” I am reluctant to read it as if portrays an older Atticus as a separate but equal segregationist. I do not want to taint my memory of the Mockingbird Atticus. To me it is not in my mind’s view of what the older Atticus would be like. It would be akin to writing a sequel to “Casablanca” which would not live up to people’s extrapolations.

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