October 7th, 2008
Courage – A Significant Theme in the Novel ‘To Kill a Mocking Bird’
In the novel ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ written by Harper Lee, courage can be seen as one of the strongest themes depicted in the novel through the morals given by characters like Atticus, and the brave events that are show by him throughout the novel. Courage can be considered a highly developed characteristic seen in many heroic individuals throughout history. It is a quality that is used in the darkest time, as well as an emotion that is hard to find but gives great reward in the end. The theme of courage can be seen through many classic works, and is still used in many modern plots today. “Courage” is about stepping out of your comfort zone and doing something to help others even if you believe people will dislike you. This is revealed to us by the characters original belief in courage being physical; the idea of Ms Dubose and Boo Radley’s bravery is similar to Atticus’s strong moral courage. These three characters fit into this definition of what courage is and demonstrates it several times throughout the novel.
The morals that are shown throughout the novel give meaning to the overall theme of courage. Atticus shows this 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 discriminatory town, in order to defend Tom. He understood that taking the case would make him an object of mockery 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. He’s teaching the moral of courage to his kids. He knows that no one will support him but rather loath him for doing it but he knows it the right thing to do. 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, “Link, 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.
Novelists use characters as tools in their writing to enhance comments made about society. In the novel To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee racism was the cause of much agony to the blacks of a segregated south. The book is about a lawyer's advice to his children as he defends Tom Robinson a black man charged with the rape of a white girl. Throughout the 1930 s along with blacks, other groups of ...
For a younger character, like Scout, courage is most often associated with a physical act that is usually dangerous. It is hard for young children like that to realize that greater courage is shown in other aspects of life. Scout sees an example of courage in her father when he shoots the mad dog. Although Atticus did not think of it as very courageous, Jem and Scout were proud of their father and the courage he showed in the situation. He was not trying to prove anything, yet they were still impressed. Later on in the story, Jem and Scout encounter the vindictive Mrs. Dubose. “Your father’s no better than the niggers and trash he works for!” (Chapter 11, Page 113) When she bad mouthed Atticus like that, Jem decided that the best way to settle things was to ruin Mrs. Dubose’s camellias. After Atticus heard about this stunt, Jem was made to read to her every afternoon for a month. Mrs. Dubose was a very sick lady, and had morphine to ease her pain. It was not until after she died that Atticus explained to Jem and Scout how courageous the lady was because she knew she was dying but was still determined to die free of the morphine. She fought against great odds, even though she knew that she would surely die. 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.
CH. 1 Scout, the narrator, remembers the summer that her brother Jem broke his arm, and she looks back over the years to recall the incidents that led to that climactic event. Scout provides a brief introduction to the town of Maycomb, Alabama and its inhabitants, including her widowed father Atticus Finch, attorney and state legislator; Calpurnia, their "Negro" cook and housekeeper; and various ...
The note of courage is also shown 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 was found stabbed to death. Atticus put his life and career in the line. He knew, as an officer of the court, that withholding information from an investigation could have gotten him thrown in jail. Nonetheless, like many times before, doing what was right and fair prevailed in Atticus’s way of thinking. In addition, Atticus went against his moral code and principles he had always upheld before, when Atticus is faced with the decision of abiding by the law or breaking it in order to do the right thing. He knew that incarcerating a man like Boo would have been unforgivable. Especially after Boo had performed a great deed by saving his children’s lives. He knew that exposing him would be an awful way of repaying him; it would have been like “shooting a mockingbird.” So, Atticus chose to protect Boo from the public eye rather than abide by the law and his “honest” ways he was so accustomed to follow. Sometimes it takes even more courage to set a new level of morals then to stay in your comfort zone.
In conclusion, Atticus shows praiseworthy courage and behaviour, in many instances, throughout the story. Not by fighting or killing, but by standing up for what he believed in a civilized and determined way. His strongest motivation, however, were his kids. He wanted to be a good example to his kids and still in them a strong sense of moral values. One time Scout asked him why he had taken a case he knew he wasn’t going to win and he responded by saying, “For a number of reasons. 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.” (Chapter 9, Page 75) In other words, he would not have been able to speak to his kids about justice and standing up for what someone believes when he himself had not stood for what he believed in.
To Kill a Mockingbird "To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee is a story of national magnitude that contains complex characters. Harper Lee deals with the emotions and spirits of the characters insight fully. A few of these characters display courage at one point or another in the story. These flashes of courage come during turbulent times of the story, and often led to success. Atticus Finch ...