“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 insightfully. 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 displayed courage on numerous occasions. Without his wife he had to raise Jem and Scout alone for most of their lives. Because he knew he had to set an example for his children to follow, Atticus tried never to let his emotions get the best of him. He stated on several occasions that he would not be able to tell his children one thing and do another. He believed in teaching by example, and his methods worked. Scout views her father as the bravest person she ever knew when he was cordial to Mrs. Dubose, despite her gibes. In front of the jail, Atticus was reading to Tom Robinson, a Negro he was defending in a rape case. The black versus white mentality was like a wildfire through almost all of Maycomb’s white residents during this case. As he was reading Atticus was approached by a group of men wanting to get at Tom. “’He in there, Mr. Finch?’
‘He is and he’s asleep. Don’t wake him up.’
‘You know what we want. Get aside from the door, Mr. Finch’
‘You can turn around and go home again, Walter.’”(151) Atticus stood strong against an entire mob due to his strong values. He would not budge, even though he was outnumbered. His voice was cool and collected throughout the entire encounter, proving once more his courage. Atticus was also courageous when he aimed to defend Tom Robinson instead of just allowing the guilty verdict. “’Lemme tell you somethin’ now, Billy, you know the court appointed him to defend this nigger.’
‘Yeah but Atticus aims to defend him. That’s what I don’t like about it.’”(163) In those times many lawyers did not attempt to defend black men against white men. They were biased against their own clients. But Atticus, however, would not do such a thing. He stuck to his beliefs and continued the trial even though he knew that he could never win with a biased jury. To use his own words for him, Atticus was licked before he began but he began anyway and saw it through to the end.
Jem is another character that displays...
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... his reading. Then an alarm clock would sound and Jem and Scout would be shooed away by Mrs. Dubose’s maid Jessie. “’Mrs. Dubose was a morphine addict. She tood it as a pain-killer for years. The doctor put her on it. She’d have spent the rest of her life on it and died without much agony, but she was too contrary…She said she was going to leave this world beholden to nothing and nobody…She said she meant to break herself of it before she died, and that’s what she did…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 your licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do. Mrs. Dubose won, all ninety-eight pounds of her. According to her views, she died beholden to nothing and nobody. She was the braves person I ever knew.”(112) Atticus would have made Jem read to her anyway just to realize how courageous she really was. Mrs. Dubose knew that she would be in great pain but stuck to her ideals and came out on top. She was very old and sickly yet still conquered her morphine addiction. As Atticus said, she possessed real courage.
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