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"Heck," Atticus's back was turned. "If this thing's hushed up it'll be a simple denial to Jem of the way I've tried to raise him. Sometimes I think I'm a total failure as a parent, but I'm all they've got. Before Jem looks at anyone else he looks at me, and I've tried to live so I can look squarely back at him... if I connived at something like this, frankly I couldn't meet his eye, and the day I can't do that I'll know I've lost him. I don't want to lose him and Scout, because they're all I've got." (30.37)
Talk about upsetting the social order: Atticus seems much less concerned with judging his children (as opposed to, say, Bob Ewell) than with how they might judge him. How dependent is Atticus's good behavior on his children? Would he behave differently if they didn't exist? If not, why does he so often refer to them when he's trying to explain to others why he acts like he does?