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Courage in To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee

Good Essays
Courage exists in several forms in Harper Lee’s novel, To Kill a Mockingbird. As defined by Atticus Finch, real courage "…when you know you're licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what” (149). The novel explores the how this real courage can be shown in different ways through the lives of many characters in Maycomb, particularly, Tom Robinson, Mrs. Dubose, and Atticus. Their courage is evident through their lifestyle, actions, and beliefs.
One of the characters who show real courage is Tom Robinson. Being an African-American and living a generally prejudiced town like Maycomb, Tom was already licked from the start. Tom was allegedly accused of raping a white person and as Atticus says, “In our courts, when it’s a white man’s word against a black man’s, the white man always wins” (295). During his trial, Tom could have lied about his reasoning for helping Mayella, to keep himself from getting into more trouble but instead he showed real courage by revealing the real reason behind his actions: “I felt sorry for her, she seemed to try more’n the rest of ‘em” (264). Since Jim Crow laws were active in Maycomb, Tom’s answer was seen as a terrible mistake: “Below us, nobody liked Tom Robinson’s answer” (264). It showed that he, being a black person, thought he was better off than a white person. Tom also had real courage to go and help Mayella out in the first place; he didn’t have to, and by doing it he was putting himself to risk; any bystander could have gotten the wrong idea. However, he helped her anyways out of sheer goodwill. Another act of courage Tom did was when he tried to escape prison by running over the fence. He was licked from the start because he only had one good arm a...

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...tect his client and doing all in his power to bring justice.
In conclusion, true courage is the ability to confront something even if one is “licked from the start. Tom Robinson, Mrs. Dubose, and Atticus Finch all display real courage throughout Harper Lee’s novel To Kill a Mockingbird. Tom Robinson, being an African-American, living in a prejudiced town and having a crippled arm, still helped Mayella, gave a truthful testimony and tried to escape prison. Mrs. Dubose courageously overcame her morphine addiction despite her age and pains. Atticus’s real courage drove him to put aside the criticism and risk, and take up and fight the Tom Robinson’s controversial case. It is evident that these three characters in To Kill a Mockingbird display acts of real courage even when they know they are fighting a losing battle.

Works Cited

"To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee
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