Here we find picket fences, tire swings, and nosy neighbor ladies rocking on their porches.
Most of the adult characters are appealing, and they are familiar Southern types: the devoted and dignified black maid, the good country people, the ladies of the Missionary Society.
“Our courts have their faults, as does any human institution,” he says to the jury composed entirely of white men, “but in this country our courts are the great levelers, and in our courts all men are created equal.” In a Faulkner novel, Atticus might have been a brooding, eloquent, Hamlet-like character, his mind chaotic with an awareness of historical injustice and the psychic scars inflicted by centuries of racism.
In Lee’s novel, Atticus is measured and restrained, betraying his passion only in his closing argument in Tom’s defense. He knows that his actions don’t always sit well with his fellow citizens, and when Scout asks him about a certain insult, he replies: “Scout,” said Atticus, “nigger-lover is just one of those terms that don’t mean anything—like snot-nose. Ignorant, trashy people use it when they think somebody’s favoring negroes over and above themselves.
Admittedly, the first-person narration makes it almost impossible for Lee to present the scene of Tom’s death more fully, or to articulate the kind of rage, grief, and despair that an adult might feel at such a time.
The reader sees everything through Scout’s eyes, and she is only eight years old at the end of the book.
Nuggets of unimpeachable wisdom drop regularly from his lips, making nearly every occasion a teaching moment.
“Atticus speaks in snatches of dialogue,” said Allen Barra in a 2010 essay in is precisely this ability to tap into an American civic religion.
Simplification is usually the result of abstraction; precepts are a lot tidier than the messy lives of human beings.
Atticus, as portrayed in the novel, is more at ease dealing with principles than with people.