1. Discuss Atticus’s parenting style. What is his relationship to his children like? How does he seek to instil conscience in them?
When reading To Kill a Mockingbird, it is easily observed that Scout is a tomboy, and Jem is a very stereotypical young boy. The neighbours of the Finch family criticise Atticus for this, but do not have a great understanding of the wise and gentle nature Atticus withholds, which he instils on his children. At the beginning of the novel, Scout is an innocent five-year-old girl with no concept of the evils of the world. As the novel progresses, Scout has her first contact with evil in the form of racial prejudice, and the basic development of her character is governed by the question of whether she will emerge from that contact with her conscience and optimism intact or whether she will be bruised, hurt, or destroyed like Boo Radley and Tom Robinson. Atticus is a man committed to justice and fairness, and his parenting style is based on fostering these virtues in his children- he even encourages Jem and Scout to call him Atticus in order to be able to speak on as equal terms as possible. Atticus loves his children very much, but is still able to teach them life lessons without turning them against him. Throughout part one, Atticus works on developing his children’s morals to be as understanding and accepting as possible. By living up to his own moral consequences and taking the censure he receives for it, he is leading a great example. To conclude, Atticus is a harsh teacher, but overall he is a benevolent and humane man with high standards for both himself and his children. He teaches them moralities by using his own life situations to teach his children valuable lessons, such as telling Scout to put herself in someone else’s shoes before judging them.
2. Discuss the author’s portrayal of the black community and the characters of Calpurnia and Tom Robinson. Are they realistic or idealized?
The novels portrayal of the black community is rather idealized, especially in the black church scenes. The black community is shown to be loving, affectionate, welcoming, pious, honest, hardworking, close-knit, and forthright. By familiarizing Calpurnia with the Finch family, Harper Lee is giving examples of Atticus’ determination to abolish the stigma and discrimination associated with the black community. Calpurnia and Tom Robinson, the two main black characters, both possess remarkable dignity and moral courage. The town’s black citizens are the novel’s victims, oppressed by white prejudice and forced to live in an environment where the mere word of a man like Bob Ewell can doom them to life in prison, or even execution, with no other evidence. By presenting the blacks of Maycomb…