Great Characters Wiki

"You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view - until you climb into his skin and walk around." ― Atticus' philosophy

Atticus Finch is the protagonist of Harper Lee's 1960 novel To Kill a Mockingbird and its 1962 film adaptation. He is a morally upright lawyer who defends a Black man against a false charge of raping a white woman.

In the film, he is portrayed by the late Gregory Peck.

Why He Rocks

  • His moral code - empathize with others, defend the defenseless, treat everyone with simple human decency - is unbreakable.
  • He has the courage to take on an unpopular defendant.
  • He stands up for equality for everyone under the law.
  • He provides an outstanding example for his children.
  • He stands up to Mayella's real rapist - her father, Bob.
  • He delivers an impassioned plea for justice and equality in his closing argument.

Negative Qualities

In 2015, the late Harper Lee's estate released her only other novel, Go Set a Watchman, which she wrote prior to To Kill a Mockingbird but never published. In the novel, Atticus is characterized as far less noble and racially tolerant; he describes Black people as childlike and mentally inferior to whites, and incapable of leading their own lives independent of white society. These views, while widely held among white people in the era in which Lee wrote the novel, would be considered racist today.


  • In 2003, the American Film Institute voted Atticus Finch, as portrayed by Gregory Peck in the 1962 film adaptation, as the greatest hero of all American cinema.

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