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Atticus had promised me he would wear me out if he ever heard of me fighting any more; I was far too old and too big for such childish things, and the sooner I learned to hold in, the better off everybody would be. (9.1)
Is it just us, or is there a big dose of hypocrisy here? (1) Atticus doesn't want Scout fighting, but he promises to "wear her out," i.e. physically punish her in some way; (2) he wants her to keep it in, but he also wants her to be honest. Being a kid sure is confusing.
"When a child asks you something, answer him, for goodness' sake. But don't make a production of it. Children are children, but they can spot an evasion quicker than adults, and evasion simply muddles 'em." (9.175)
Atticus recognizes that his kids are different from adults, but he respects his children—which means no lying to them or avoiding hard truths. Does this mean no Santa Claus for the Finch kids?
"If you shouldn't be defendin' him, then why are you doin' it?"
"For a number of reasons," said Atticus. "The main one is, if I didn't I couldn't hold up my head in town, I couldn't represent this county in the legislature, I couldn't even tell you or Jem not to do something again." […]
"Atticus, are we going to win it?"
"Simply because we were licked a hundred years before we started is no reason for us not to try to win," Atticus said. (9.16-25)
For Atticus, you have to judge yourself before you can judge anyone else. Or something like that. His own self-respect is bound up with his good morals: if he did something he knew was wrong, even if it was justified, he would lose all moral authority over others.