Scout Finch, the youngest child of Atticus Finch, narrates the story. It is summer and her cousin Dill and brother Jem are her companions and playmates. They play all summer long until Dill has to go back home to Maridian and Scout and her brother start school. The Atticus’ maid, a black woman by the name of Calpurnia, is like a mother to the children. While playing, Scout and Jem discover small trinkets in a knothole in an old oak tree on the Radley property. Summer rolls around again and Dill comes back to visit. A sence of discrimination develops towards the Radley’s because of their race. Scout forms a friendship with her neighbor Miss Maudie, whose house is later burnt down. She tells Scout to respect Boo Radley and treat him like a person. Treasures keep appearing in the knothole until it is filled with cement to prevent decay. As winter comes it snows for the first time in a century. Boo gives scout a blanket and she finally understands her father’s and Miss Maudie’s point of view and treats him respectfully. Scout and Jem receive air guns for Christmas, and promise Atticus never to shoot a mockingbird, for they are peaceful and don’t deserve to die in that manner. Atticus then takes a case defending a black man accused of rape. He knows that such a case will bring trouble for his family but he takes it anyways. This is the sense of courage he tries to instill in his son Jem.
Atticus defines courage to Jem. "I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It's when you know you're licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what" (112). A man with a gun, in his eyes, is not a man, but a coward. It takes little character to point a gun and pull a trigger, but it takes mountains of courage to accept a challenge in which you are already defeated. Nothing to do but reverse fate, overturn the thoughts and predictions which stands looking down with a grin upon its face. This feat maybe impossible, but not totally forsaken, for courage prevails over cowardice.
Courage, bravery, selflessness, all attributes necessary for winners to possess.