Respect is something earned by being a good person or doing something remarkable. But often, people do not recognize the admirable, remarkable things someone has done. In the novel To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, many characters are not recognized for all they do for the people they care about. It can take one situation, big or small, for them to realize that they really do care. A main idea Lee portrayed in this book is the idea of appreciation and respect. Throughout the story, Lee uses the main characters to show the reader that in life, we often do not appreciate those we are closest to.
To begin with, Scout and Jem think that their father, Atticus, is just a boring old man. When Calpurnia tells Scout that “Mr. Finch...can do lots of things” (91), she questions it asking, “like what?” (92). Scout did not think her father was capable of anything interesting. But after Atticus shoots a mad dog in one shot, Scout is proud and influenced more by her father, and gains respect for him. Jem raves about the shot to Scout, saying Atticus “just relaxed all over, an' it looked like that gun was a part of him...I hafta aim for ten minutes 'fore I can hit somethin',” (97). Learning that her father was “One-Shot Finch” (97), opened her eyes and made her respect him more. The children also realize how great Atticus was when he defended Tom Robinson. Seeing their father overcome adversity and drama showed them what a noble figure he was to look up to.
Secondly, when Aunt Alexandra first comes to stay with the Finches, nobody really respects her. The children usually live a relaxed life under the care of Atticus and Calpurnia and Alexandra does not approve. Alexandra was also disrespecting their way of life. Scout, in particular, does not like her because she tries to change her tomboyish ways. Aunt Alexandra tries to mold the children into the stereotypical lady or gentleman, and have them respect the Finch name. Atticus confronts the kids saying, “your aunt has asked me to try and impress upon you...that you are the product of several generations' gentle breeding-,” (133). But Atticus himself disagrees with her and her morals. Later in the story, though, we see her love and support for Atticus after he loses the Robinson case and in the way she comforts Scout when she discovers Tom Robinson died. But Aunt Alexandra really gains respect after the children get attacked. The Finches see her sincere emotions of guilt when she apologizes to Atticus saying, “I had a feeling about tonight- I- this is my fault. I should have-” (267). Her getting speechless due to the shock, and regretting not going with the children really shows that she really cares about the well-being of the family and deserves respect.
Another example is the disrespect Scout showed to Calpurnia, their maid, early on. After Calpurnia punishes her, Scout suggests for Atticus to fire her. “ ‘She likes Jem better’n she likes me, anyway,’ I concluded, and suggested that Atticus lose no time in…