Fathers in “To Kill a Mockingbird” are a very important and recurring theme in the book. Harper Lee uses quite a lot of different types of fathers. There are a few main fathers in the book the most important being Atticus Finch. The other fathers are Mr Radley and Mr Cunningham. I will only be discussing about Atticus Finch and Mr Radley.
On the one hand Harper Lee brings us a very stringent and mean father as he keeps his son locked up in the house and doesn’t let him leave the house. His son is Arthur Radley (Boo Radley). He is according to Miss Stephanie Crawford “a foot washing Baptist.” I believe that Mr Radley is embarrassed of his son and does not want Boo to be humiliated even more, so he doesn’t allow his son to go to an industrial school, as he thought it was embarrassing for a “Radley” to go there; even though the other kids who attended there got a very good education. Later on he forbids his son to be permitted into any mental hospital as he believed his son did not need to go and it would be shameful to the Radley name if he lets his son go to an asylum.
Harper Lee presents Mr Radley as a very old fashioned type of father and is presented as a very bad father even though he might not believe he is. Mr Radley excludes himself from the local community because he is self-righteous and pious; so the town’s people dislike him. He is presented as a mean father because of the way he practises his beliefs and religion.
On the other hand Harper Lee brings us a very different father than Mr Radley. Atticus Finch is a loving, thoughtful and smart father as he always helps his children out. He knows what to do with his children and he treats them as if they were adults; for instance; he lets them refer to him as Atticus and not Father or Dad. Atticus is a widowed lawyer and is always there for his children no matter what. Atticus is old according to his children and his children dislike the fact that he does not do any of the things the other fathers do in town. “When Jem and I asked him why he was so old, he said he got started late, which we felt reflected upon his abilities and manliness.”
Harper lee presents Atticus as a very strong father figure. He always tells his children the truth about right and wrong and hopes to prepare them for the brutality of the world that lies ahead of them; when he is talking to his brother about what type of father he is and the trials that lie ahead, he knew Scout was listening and wanted her to hear everything. Harper Lee presents him as a very truthful man and a courageous person, for instance; we find out that Atticus is the best shot in town and that Atticus didn’t want his children to find out.
Atticus said he was given a gift from god and that he should only use it when he absolutely needed to. This presents him as a very humble person. He is the person that will do what nobody else will do for example defend Tom Robinson against the Ewell’s; he does the moral thing and tries to teach his children to do the moral thing and not always follow the crowd. He says not to judge people until you walk around in their shoes. Mr Radley believes he is morally right but Atticus is probably the closest to being morally right.
My conclusion is that Harper Lee is saying that it is very hard to be a father and that fathers are very important in the book and also in a child’s life. She gives us two completely different fathers and presents them to us in two completely different ways. Although the two fathers have one thing in common; they both do what they believe is right even though it takes them down two very different paths.
They both go against the crowd; Mr Radley excludes himself from the town because he is self-righteous and Atticus defends Tom Robinson while the whole town, even though they believe the Ewell’s are horrible people, will believe the Ewell’s instead of believing what they think is right just because of the colour of Tom Robinson’s skin.