One thing I noticed when reading this book is how gentle Atticus is portrayed. I specifically marked two places in my book where Miss Maudie reflects on this aspect. On page 60, Lee writes, “If Atticus Finch drank until he was drunk he still wouldn’t be as hard as some men are at their best.” Miss Maudie is telling Scout that following the Bible does not automatically make someone a decent person, making the comparison that a Bible in one man’s hand can be worse than whiskey in the hand of Atticus. This goes to show that it is not one’s beliefs that matter, but their heart. Miss Maudie also says, “If your father’s anything he’s civilized in his heart…I think maybe he put his gun down when he realized that God had given him an unfair advantage over most living things. I guess he decided he wouldn’t shoot until he had to, and today he had to.” (130) Just because he can shoot, doesn’t mean that he particularly wants to, because Atticus is not malicious at heart and does not like that he possessed the power to kill.
This trend I noticed was exemplified in the New Yorker Article, “The Courthouse Ring.” The author Malcom Gladwell draws a connection between Big Jim Folsom and Atticus. Big Jim Folsom believed in the rights of black men but was not an activist. He believed doing little things in his everyday life to encourage equality, like shaking the hands of two black men before greeting the judge that he was there for. Atticus does that too, in a sense. He tells Scout not to use the n word, and that it’s not okay to hate anybody, not even Hitler. When he is sitting outside of the jailhouse, he does not plan to use violence on the men that come for Tom. The most important fact of matter is what the article highlights, that when Tom Robinson is found guilty, Atticus did not throw a fit like an activist would, but rather walks out silently and solemnly. The article states, “He’s not Thurgood Marshall looking for racial salvation through the law. He’s Jim Folsom, looking for racial salvation through hearts and minds.” His gentle nature is what encouraged him to fight for Tom Robinson because Tom’s color is not a factor to Atticus, his heart is. Atticus had every right after working so hard to be angry about the verdict, but he did not show the slightest rage.