Document Type

Class Paper

Publication Date

Spring 2016


What makes a man, a man? One could argue biology and physical appearance. One could say a certain age determines manhood, or his independence, success in the world, power or achievements. However, masculinity is not fixed, but rather fluid; it is a social construct and what it entails to achieve manhood differs according to culture (Motl). Lee comments on the roles of race and gender dynamics in the early 20th century South throughout her novel, To Kill a Mockingbird. American stereotypes of masculinity include, but are not limited to: competition, power, aggression, and stoicism. Furthermore, manhood is often considered merely the opposite of everything that is feminine. Atticus Finch, the southern, 1930’s, lawyer presents a unique example of manhood. No reader can deny the masculinity of Finch. However, he does not fit the standard of manliness as defined by the town of Maycomb or even America during that time. He even displays qualities that can be deemed feminine such as diplomacy, tenderness, and the ability to nurture. The combination of these qualities displayed in the character of Atticus make him a literary father figure that readers strive to emulate. Atticus Finch stands as the epitome of a man of character in To Kill a Mockingbird through his display of courage, sympathy for the well-being of others, and resolve to do what is right despite the hardships those choices may bring.