‘At least Dad was still fun- when he was around, which wasn’t very often’. Sephy is also very disinterested in her father’s political career: ‘Why on earth would I care about Dad becoming prime minister? I saw little enough of him as it was. If he became Prime Minister I’d have to watch the telly just to remember what he looked like’. We the reader get the feeling that Sephy is treated as an object as opposed to a real person.
This relationship starkly contrasts with that between Atticus Finch and his daughter Scout. They have a loving and close relationship. Atticus informs both Scout and Jem that they might hear some ‘ugly talk’ associated with the upcoming trial of Tom Robinson. He is open and honest and explains to Scout his reasons for taking Tom Robinson’s case: ‘This case, Tom Robinson’s case, is something that goes to the essence of a man’s conscience- Scout, I couldn’t go to church and worship God if I didn’t try to help that man’.
Conversely, Kamal Hadley is secretive and fails to tell Sephy about the existence of her half-brother. She tells Callum: ‘You’ll never guess what I found out from eavesdropping on Mother and Dad’. We learn that Kamal Hadley is a hypocrite and a racist and is unhappy that his daughter does not assimilate these same racist values. Unlike Atticus, he does not parent his children but rather tries to bully and dominate them. We see this when Sephy is caught listening to her father and an acquaintance: ‘Dad’s eyes blazed with rage as he scowled at me. He looked like he wanted to hit me’.
Shockingly, he does not support his young daughter when he learns that she is pregnant. Instead he bullies her and tries to coerce (force) her into having an abortion against her will. He cruelly tells her that it is within his power to ensure that Callum doesn’t hang but only receive a prison sentence. He tries to manipulate her by telling her: ‘And where there’s life….there’s a price….and all you have to do is agree to have an abortion’.
Whilst Atticus can be strict with Scout and Jem, he is never domineering or controlling and we learn that both Scout and Jem have great respect for their father. Atticus has a close and loving relationship with Scout and he is constantly advising her and mentoring her. He tells her that she should avoid getting into fights in the schoolyard and ‘try fighting with your head for a change….. It’s a good one’. He does not belittle Scout and is always encouraging her. He worries about her catching ‘Maycomb’s usual disease’ (racism). He is interested in his daughter and wants her to grow up to be a discerning empathetic (caring) person. He allows her to express herself by wearing trousers and playing with boys but does not allow her to be cruel to Boo Radley. He tells her ‘You never really understand a person until you……climb into his shoes and walk around in it’.
This is differs from Sephy Hadley’s relationship with her father. Her father is only interested in his political career. He is a completely self-absorbed character. Sephy informs us about a clock in her bedroom- ‘a fourteenth birthday present from a few months ago from my father. A present he’d probably never even seen’. This is a very distant father-daughter relationship. Kamal Hadley does not advise or mentor his daughter as he has no real interest in her. When Sephy tells her father that she is pregnant with Callum’s baby because they made love together, he is horrified. We are told that he assaults his daughter: ‘Dad slapped me so hard he knocked me off my feet’. He disowns his daughter: ‘You are no longer my daughter’ and he derogatorily labels her ‘a blanker’s slut’. Kamal Hadley is a racist who happily supports the inequality and injustice of the status quo. He is angry that his daughter so overtly defies it because of the damage it will do to his reputation.
The opposite occurs in ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ where the morally discerning Atticus challenges his daughter not to accept the corrupt status quo. We see the positive impact of Atticus on Scout as she realises that ‘Atticus was right. One time he said that you never really know a man until you stand in his shoes and walk around in them’. Kamal Hadley’s impact on Sephy is quite the opposite. His legacy on Sephy’s life is quite harmful and traumatic as he is responsible for Callum’s death, the death of the person she loved most in the world and Sephy is forced to cut herself off from the negative harmful impact that not just her father but indeed her entire family have on her. They emotionally drain the goodness out of her life.