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I don't think that I'm overstating that Atticus really drives the message or themes of the book. Atticus is a character who personifies all that is good and just in people. Maycomb is a town in the South during the 1930's.Bigotry, intolerance and basic ignorance are the norm. It has been ingrained in the population for generations. When Tom Robinson, an obviously innocent man, is put on trial for rape, Atticus takes the job of defending him. Despite overwhelming disgust from the town Atticus is able to appeal to their hearts and minds; he is able to stir their conscience and sense of justice. In the end, even though their bigotry ends up getting the better of them, they all know the truth. Atticus is a man who leads by example. We can see Atticus in both his children. Scout and Jem are developing a similar sense of justice and honor as their father which makes us think that there is hope for humanity yet.
Atticus uses simple yet profound logic to guide his children through life, "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."
Scout comes home from school in a bad mood. Atticus imparts some of his special wisdom on to Scout. Atticus is very good at observing things from different points of view. He does this as a lawyer and as a human being. Scout is just learning this very advanced human trait of empathy. Most people never really learn this but Scout is well on her way. By the end of the novel, she has caught on. Instead of screaming or acting shocked at Boo Radley, she gives him a friendly smile and simply says, "Hey Boo."
Atticus........... Likes............... His.............. Children...........