Sunday, July 1, 2012

Atticus Finch

Just a couple of weeks ago, one of my managers and I were having a nice little conversation about my idea of the "perfect guy". (This all stemmed from a conversation we were having where she was quickly coming to the conclusion that I'm a bit picky about guys, which is I can safely say is completely untrue, because to be perfectly fair, I'm not picky about anything.) Anyway, that conversation quickly halted because, in my mind, there isn't such a thing as a perfect guy. Nobody can (nor should they) be perfect.

This weekend, I was proven wrong.

I was just relaxing at home (it was too hot in Chicago to do much of anything BUT relax in my highly comfortably air-conditioned apartment), catching up on my DVR when I realized that, rather than watch my five billionth DVR'ed Cosby Show in a row, I might as well catch up on some of the movies I'd been DVR'ing as of late... if you know me at all, you know I'm not the biggest movie person, so committing to a movie took a fair amount of effort on my part.

Up first? To Kill a Mockingbird.

To be fair, I've seen this movie more than a few times (and I make it a point to read the book at least once a year... it's the least I can do since it is, after all, my favorite book of all time), so I knew I would totally be into it. I haven't seen it in a while though and I can't believe some of the details I'd forgotten over time.

The main one being that God did create one perfect man in the world... and his name is Atticus Finch.

I'm assuming most of you have at least read To Kill a Mockingbird, but for those who haven't, here's a brief synopsis c/o Amazon:  

"Set in the small Southern town of Maycomb, Alabama, during the Depression, To Kill a Mockingbird follows three years in the life of 8-year-old Scout Finch, her brother, Jem, and their father, Atticus--three years punctuated by the arrest and eventual trial of a young black man accused of raping a white woman. Though her story explores big themes, Harper Lee chooses to tell it through the eyes of a child. The result is a tough and tender novel of race, class, justice, and the pain of growing up."

You can't help BUT fall in love with all the characters of this book... Jem and Scout just epitomize childhood innocence. But what struck me as I was watching this movie just yesterday was Atticus. 

God, he is just spectacular. He is truly, truly, truly the perfect guy, if ever there was one. And this is why:

1. Passion and conviction for making the world a better place - So first off, he's a lawyer in small-town Alabama, and agrees to take on a highly controversial trial where he's defending a black man (a pretty big deal, considering this was set in the 1930s). But this is what I love about him- he has his convictions, he knows what's right, and he sticks to his guns, no matter what others are thinking. His sheer passion and drive to do what's "right" in the world is just plain admirable.

2. Confidence - every word he says, every sentiment he makes... all is done in the most confident, articulate of manners. I feel like today, there are so many people who are so highly capable but, rather than delivering in a confident manner, their delivery is more of the arrogant variety. If there's one thing I can't stand, it's arrogance. (Okay, there's many things I can't stand, but arrogance is one of them.) No one, absolutely no one, has a right to be arrogant. But confident? That's a different story. And Atticus Finch is Confidence Personified. I just love how crisply and clearly he articulates every statement he says- whether he's reprimanding his children, giving his children advice, speaking with his neighbors, or standing his ground in one of the most controversial cases of his time. 

 3. Respect - okay, this is the ABSOLUTE kicker. While Atticus Finch respects everyone, the amount of respect that he treats his children is just plain admirable. He reprimands them when necessary (what child doesn't need to be reprimanded?) but he truly LISTENS to them... where other parents may brush off their children's antics and simply punish them for misbehaving, Atticus Finch actually takes the time to probe the deeper issues out of Jem and Scout... and GOD, there's this scene in To Kill a Mockingbird where I was literally in tears. It was when Scout had returned from her first day of school and had had the worst first day of school and didn't want to go back. Rather than assuming the teacher was right for "disciplining" Scout, Atticus took the time to listen to Scout's point of view of her first day and simply talked her through how they could make it "all better". Honestly, do people like that even EXIST in the world anymore?

4. Devotion - so I lied when I said that respect was the "ABSOLUTE kicker". THIS has got to be the absolute kicker. Atticus' devotion to everything in life (from his job to his children) is nothing short of commendable. Normally, I could care less how "devoted" people are to their jobs (I mean, a job's great, but it doesn't compare to having a fulfilling life, in my opinion), but this is an exception to that rule... primarily because of what Atticus' job is. He's a lawyer, and his genuine devotion to upholding the law, in order to make the world a better place for his children is clearly apparent throughout the story. But more than his devotion to his job is his devotion to his children. The love he harbors for his children is so pure and tangible, it makes me want to cry. There is one scene in To Kill a Mockingbird where I was literally just outright crying (rather than merely just tearing up)- it's near the end, where Jem and Scout were attacked by crazy Bob Ewell. Boo Radley had already carried Jem home and Scout was just a few paces behind... Atticus, upon learning of the incident when Boo showed up at his door with Scout, immediately RAN out of the house in a frenzy and simply shouted "SCOUT!" as he began his search efforts (thankfully, she was just right around the corner, since she had just been a few paces behind). But seriously, the emotion that was evoked in the tone that he shouted her name... it really just said it all. Not only that, but at the very end, as Boo is about to leave the Finch home, Atticus goes up to him, shakes his hand and simply says "Thank you, Boo. Thank you for my children." Sigh. Every single time... EVERY single time, that one line sends chills up and down my spine. 

The grace and dignity with which Atticus Finch approaches the important things in life (i.e. his children, his meaningful career) is something that individuals in today's day and age should really aspire to do/be. I'm not saying that it just doesn't exist in today's world, but I feel like I can safely say that it's more the anomaly than the norm. I don't even think that's just the case today... I think that was likely the case "back in the day" as well, which is exactly the reason why a character like Atticus Finch stands out in so many ways. In any event, next time anyone in their right mind asks me to outline my idea of the "perfect guy", I will simply have two words:

Atticus Finch.

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