To Kill a Mockingbird Characters, Atticus Finch, Scout, Jem and Dill Harris
The Atticus Finch Character In To Kill a Mockingbird
Atticus, a lawyer, is the most scrupulous character in To Kill A Mockingbird. He teaches his views of being just and open-minded to Scout throughout the novel. Atticus treats everyone he knows equally regardless of race or class as he believes you could not judge someone unless you "stood in his shoes and walked around in them".
The central message and the title of the novel come from Atticus Finch. He believes it is wrong to kill mockingbirds because all they do is sing beautiful songs and never harm anyone. This motif is shown through Tom Robinson and Boo Radley who both never hurt anyone yet are disliked because of other people's prejudices.
The main plot of To Kill A Mockingbird is based on Atticus's defence of Tom Robinson, a black man accused of raping a white woman. Because of his decision to defend a black man Atticus and the children face disdain from the rest of the town. Despite their insults and threats, Atticus refuses to give in and defends Tom Robinson to the best of his ability, even managing to prove him innocent in the end.
When Bob Ewell is accidentally killed at the end of the novel, in order to protect Boo Radley the sheriff insists that Mr Ewell fell on his own knife. Interestingly and unusually, Atticus eventually agrees to the sheriff's version of events despite believing that Bob Ewell was killed. This avoided the killing of another mockingbird.
Harper Lee based the character of Atticus Finch on her father, Amasa Lee who was a lawyer and Alabama senator. The last name of Finch probably came from her mother's name and the first name Atticus came from the ancient Persian orator Titus Pomponius Atticus.
The Scout Finch Character In To Kill a Mockingbird
Scout is an intelligent six year old girl who can read and write before beginning the first grade. She is also a tomboy and so is teased by the other girls. Scout has a crush on Charles Baker Harris or "Dill" who comes to Maycomb to visit each summer.
At first Scout is immature and prejudiced like other typical Maycomb children, her first instinct being to turn to force and fighting to resolve conflicts. However as To Kill A Mockingbird proceeds Scout matures, becoming more rational and learning to see other points of view thanks to the teaching of her father, Atticus Finch.
One of Scout's initial points of prejudice is Boo Radley, the Finch's neighbour. At first the children imagine Boo to be some kind of monster because of the rumours they have heard about him from other townsfolk. However, after Boo shows them kindness and even saves Scout and her brother from an attack she realises she had judged Boo prematurely before even meeting him.
At the end of To Kill A Mockingbird Scout feels regret that she never repaid the kindness Boo showed her. It is then that she realises the danger of prejudice and the importance of seeing things from other peoples' perspective, or "standing in their shoes".
The Jem Finch Character In To Kill a Mockingbird
Initially, Jem is depicted as a playmate to both Scout and Dill Harris. Later, he becomes Scout's dear friend, confidante, and protector. A smart-alec and an intelligent boy, he likes to read and to share his thoughts with Scout and Atticus. He is also fond of dreaming and talking about football.
Jem holds a naive and idealistic view of the world. His meaning of bravery starts with a simple understanding of not declining a dare. This turns into a more complex form, especially when he witnesses the injustice experienced by Tom Robinson whom Atticus defends in court. Jem is willing to sacrifice himself for the sake of his family. He chooses to stay with his father in the midst of a violent mob and he also defends his sister from physical harm.
Scout sees Jem as an endearing boy capable of challenging those with authority or those who think highly of themselves ("maddening superiority"). Jem dreams of becoming a lawyer because of Atticus. A shift in Jem's behavior is shown when he advises runaway Dill to "...let your mother know where you are". He seeks Atticus' help in resolving this issue. Such a move makes Jem's friends wary of him, but he is convinced that he did the right thing.
As a principled adolescent, Jem finds it difficult to accept the jury's guilty verdict in the case of Tom Robinson. He believes that it is unfair for people to send an innocent man to jail. Jem tells Scout, "I never wanta hear about that courthouse again, ever, ever, you hear me?" Atticus opts to let Jem express his displeasure, for he is witnessing his son's growing sense of what is right and what is wrong.
The Dill Harris Character In To Kill a MockingbirdCharles Baker Harris or "Dill" is the only main character in To Kill A Mockingbird who is not a local of Maycomb. He is an outsider whose family lives in Mississippi. Often neglected by his mother and stepfather, he spends his summer vacations in Maycomb with his Aunt Rachel and her family. But despite being a stranger, Dill shares certain qualities with other people in the town.
Like Scout, who does not know one of her parents, Dill does not know his father. He is observant of other people, but flippant about his interactions with them. Dill is also imaginative, curious, and a daredevil. For example, he tries to lure the reclusive Boo Radley into stepping outside of his house and also coaxes Jem to approach Boo's house to get Boo to come out. Like Jem, who attempted to get the clothes he'd left behind at the Radleys', Dill likes to take risks and this is demonstrated especially when he runs away from home.
Although Dill can be as provocative as Bob Ewell, his antics are not dangerous. However, Dill does have a tendency to lie and deceive the way Dolphus Raymond and the Ewells do. For example, Mayella Ewell is forced to lie more and more as Tom Robinson's trial unfolds, as depicted by Scout's quote: "one must lie under certain circumstances and at all times when one can't do anything about them". When the guilty verdict is given at the end of Tom Robinson's trial, it emotionally affects Dill, shattering his childhood innocence.