The racism which was prevalent in many small American towns in the 1930s is expertly illustrated in Harper Lee's classic novel, To Kill A Mockingbird. Although there were several characters in the book, including the young narrator and her brother, the true main character is their father, Atticus Finch, a man of great integrity and intelligence. He is a very heroic figure, in more ways than one. He possesses such traits as being principled, determined, and what's more, he is a teacher to others. These all show him to be a hero of the most genuine kind.
Atticus Finch's principles are clear almost from the very beginning of the book when he shows quite clearly that he does not look down on the young Walter and the rest of the Cunninghams. His daughter scoffs at the penniless Walter, but Atticus maintains that he is a person, just like anyone else. Mr. Finch also says the same things about the mysterious and elusive Boo Radley, and he will not permit his children to tease him. Even the title of the novel reflects Atticus's principles; he will not shoot a mockingbird nor condone anyone else who does so, because mockingbirds do nothing but sing beautiful songs for us, and it is wrong to kill such a bird. On the same wavelength, although he has phenomenal marksmanship and is even known asOne Shot Finch?, he has resolved never to kill another living thing or use a gun at all unless it is absolutely necessary, for he sees his talent with a gun as an unfair advantage over other creatures. The most obvious example of Atticus Finch's principles is his firmness that his client, Tom Robinson be treated as any white person in his situation would be, and that he receives a fair trial. He knows that the Ewells -those who accuse Tom- are relying on their word being believed over a black man's simply due to the bigotry of the jury. This quote from the book sums up his feelings on the matter, as he makes his final address to the court:.