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Courage In "To Kill A Mockingbird"

1169 words - 5 pages

Webster's dictionary defines courage as "mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty." According to Atticus Finch, one of the main characters in To Kill A Mockingbird, "Courage is when you know you're licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what." (Chapter 11, Page 124) No matter how you define it, Harper Lee definitely portrays the theme of courage in this book. It is one of the most predominant themes and is shown in many of the characters. All of the characters have a different view as to what courage is and they all show it a different way, however they do show courage in their everyday lives.

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Between these two examples Atticus set, and the many more he showed in the way he lived his life, Scout was taught to stop fighting with her fists and to try and overcome opposing opinions with her head, rather than with physical violence.

"Real courage" is when you fight for what is right regardless of whether you win or lose. Atticus Finch defines "real courage" and demonstrates it several times throughout the novel, in addition to the lessons that he teaches his children. He shows them mainly in the long period of time during Tom Robinson's case. It first started when Atticus took the case. He went against Maycomb, a generally prejudice town, in order to defend Tom. He understood that taking the case would make him an object of ridicule and that no one would forgive him for believing in a black man's word rather than a white man's. Even his own sister expresses disapproval of his decision, practically telling him he was bringing disgrace on the family. But, no matter how much his reputation suffered, he did not change his mind. Standing up for his morals and ethics was more important then what people thought about him. Atticus knows he will not win the case and like Mrs. Dubose in her battle against morphine, he is "licked" before he begins. Atticus's strong sense of morality and justice motivates him to defend Tom Robinson with determination, and giving it all he has got. He shows this when he says, "Simply because we were licked a hundred years before we started is no reason for us not to try and won." He wants the people of Maycomb to hear the truth about Tom, "That boy may go to the chair, but he's not going till the truth's told." (Chapter 15, Page 146) Atticus later shows bravery when he went to the jailhouse to protect Tom from a mob. Without thinking twice he rushed to Tom's aid. He went willingly; knowing that if a mob did form he would be greatly outnumbered and would easily be beaten. Still, he put Tom's well being after his own welfare.

While in the courtroom Atticus also showed great courage. He did not go along with it when Heck Tate told a lie about what really happened the night Bob Ewell...

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