On the first day of school it is common to walk into each of your classes and have each of your teachers conduct almost identical “getting to know you activities.” Among very basic trivia facts about yourself, they might ask to know your favorite color, candy, or football team. Some, who are more creative, could possibly inquire as to who your greatest influence is or what you would consider to be your greatest accomplishment. This year, a new question was thrown into the mix and while it may seem quite silly, I couldn’t help but mull it over for a few days after hastily writing down an answer during class. The offender? “If you could have lunch with any person, real or fictitious, who would you choose?”
Most of my peers quickly jotted down the name of their celebrity crush and moved on. However, for some strange reason I was not able to continue the survey without coming up with an acceptable answer. I almost veered towards choosing Ryan Sheckler, then shied away and wrote down “Barack Obama.” I thought about the Pope, Michio Kaku, and Eminem. I don’t remember whose name eventually ended up on my paper, but I do know that I wasn’t completely satisfied with my answer. Considering the fact that the activity wasn’t a big deal at all, and my answer to this one question wasn’t determining my grade in the class, I found it interesting how much it bothered me that I couldn’t come up with a solid response.
Although I wasn’t aware of it at the time, deep inside I already knew exactly who I would drop everything for if it meant I could spend quality time with them. Unfortunately, this person has never actually walked this earth, and they reside among the pages of my favorite book, To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee. I’ve never been so drawn to a character, or been so upset by the fact that fiction is simply fiction. While he may not be alive and breathing, in my eyes, Atticus Finch is one of the most flawless, well-rounded people to ever be.
I had never thought that the existence of a “perfect person” was even a possibility until I first read this text. It only took a few pages of reading for me to become infatuated with the character and essence of Atticus. Working as an attorney in a small town in Alabama during the Great Depression, he is also a single father of two young children. He possesses a unique color-blindness for the time-period and is well-known around town for his respectability, integrity, and selflessness. He comes across as a bottomless-well of information and always keeps his cool even in the most emotional of situations. As a father, he works to be didactic and a role model, as he demonstrates how one should act with propriety and modesty.
Perhaps what draws me most to his character is his outlook on life and the human being. No matter how horrible of a person one may appear to be, Atticus treats them as royally as he would treat a king. He sees each and every person as one who deserves his respect and would never speak poorly about someone. Atticus chooses to turn a blind-eye to the more negative characteristics of the people around him, recognizing them as unfortunate traits that are just part of the package of being human. Instead, performing a feat that most would not have success in, he defines people by only their positive attributes. While others view Atticus as quasi-hero, he looks in the mirror and sees an ordinary man.
It is possible that my opinion of Atticus has been swayed because of the telling of this story from his daughter Scout’s point of view. As an innocent child, she views her father with complete and utter adoration, maybe leaving the reader in the dark to any flaws that he may have. Regardless, the character of Atticus Finch is one that has me completely enchanted.
While I will never be able to meet Atticus, I believe that after a couple thorough readings of To Kill a Mockingbird his being has made a profound influence on me. Whenever I think about Atticus I feel a great push to strive to be the best person that I can be. He reminds me to be kind and fair toward all and to have a positive outlook on life. I feel encouraged to never stop being a student, a teacher, and a contributing member to society. I can only hope that he won’t escape my mind next year when my teacher asks me who I would most like to dine with.
Ariana Sadoughi writes a regular column for fredericknewspost.com.