Atticus Finch is one of the main characters and protagonists in To Kill a Mockingbird. Atticus serves as the lawyer for Tom Robinson, tries to combat racism, and teaches Jem and Scout about prejudice. Unlike most Caucasian Southern men portrayed in the novel, Finch is someone who openly speaks out against racism.
He is almost blind in his left eye. He is in his late forties, with black hair and grey side burns.
Atticus is an intelligent man, with a strong moral sense. He is slow to anger and accepting of people's flaws, even if they go against his own. To his own children, he acts more liberal, in the case of annoying Scout to wear overalls and get addressed by his first name.
Finch is the main symbol of justice in both the novel and the film. He has a great devotion to anti-racism and thinks that a white man is "trash" if the man ever cheats a black man. Finch is nice and considerate to everyone, no matter how they treat him, and despite the fact that his defending a black man costs him a few friendships, he selflessly still takes the case and tries to do as much as he can for Robinson.
Atticus used to always be described as ‘one-shot’ Finch, being the best shot in the county. This is proven to Scout when Atticus shoots the mad dag Tim Johnson with one shot from far away.
Miss Maudie speaks brightly of Atticus. She talks to Scout about his hidden talents. She explains that "he can make somebody's will so airtight can't nobody meddle with it."
Finch, as a lawyer, is asked to take a legal case that involves defending Tom Robinson, a black man who has been accused of abusing a 19-year-old Caucasian female named Mayella Ewell. Eventually, the news of his accepting the case spreads around town and puts Atticus in a negative light, leaving Jem and Scout angry about it. Atticus forbids Scout from fighting with the other kids. Once Walter Cunningham Jr., a child that Scout fought with, is invited to dinner, Atticus says that it is "a sin to kill a mockingbird", referring to the temptations to go after birds once children got their first guns.
In the trial, Mr. Bob Ewell (the father of Mayella) and Mayella herself, state that Tom Robinson had abused her. But there becomes more and more evidence that Robinson is innocent. The most profound piece of evidence is that Robinson cut his left hand (from his point of view) in a cotton gin and could not use it anymore, while Mayella had bruise marks on the left side of her face from someone else's point of view (making it her right).
However, despite the fact that Robinson's evidence is profound, the case is won by the Ewells. Finch is later dismayed to find that Robinson was shot dead while trying to escape from a jail after the case was won. Finch decides to drive to the Robinson's house and tell Tom's mother about the tragic news.
- "There's a lot of ugly things in this world, son. I wish I could keep 'em all away from you. That's never possible."
- "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."
- "I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It's when you know you're licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what"
- "Courage is not a man with a gun in his hand. It's knowing you're licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do."
- "Bad language is a stage all children go through, and it dies with time when they learn they're not attracting attention with it."
- He is the best checker player in town, and can play the Jew's harp.