To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

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To Kill A Mockingbird

In the novel, To Kill A Mockingbird, a character Atticus states; “Courage is when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what.” Throughout history, there have been many courageous people who have strongly demonstrated the quality of courage. Courage is a reoccurring theme that Harper Lee chooses to emphasize throughout To Kill A Mockingbird that many of her characters pursue as a strong quality. However, courage is proven to be most evident through Atticus, Scout, and Calpurina.

Atticus is truly a man of courage. Throughout, To Kill A Mockingbird he has to face many situations where a courageous decision is needed in order to help someone very important. Although there are many characters that are against Atticus’ decisions, he still tries to see them through knowing that the odds of succeeding are weak. Atticus definitely defines courage when he makes the decision to represent a Negro named Tom Robinson, in court. Unfortunately, many people in the town of Maycomb are prejudice and look down upon Atticus for choosing to do so. However, Atticus knowing how strongly people feel about his decision for defending a black man feels that it is something he must do. A quote from the novel symbolizing his courage is found where Jem and Scout are asking Atticus why he is defending Tom Robinson: “Every lawyer gets at least one case in his lifetime that affects him personally. This one’s mine I guess.” This quote represents his courage because it shows that he has a responsibility and is going to do the best job he can even when he understands that the odds are against him. Atticus also displays courage when he tells Scout that you shouldn’t judge someone until you have been in his or her shoes. A quote showing this is found where Scout explains to Atticus about her day’s misfortunes at school and how Miss Caroline tells her that she was taught the wrong way by her father: “First of all, Scout if you can learn a simple trick, you’ll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view.” This quote further explains his courageous qualities because it shows that he doesn’t believe in judging others until you have been in their skin, or until you know a person.

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It takes courage to understand the concept of getting to know another person’s point of view before judging them. Atticus shows this through his courageous decision to defend Tom Robinson. The towns’ people judge Tom Robinson, however Atticus sees through them and chooses to see his side, which truly displays his courage.

Scout, displays her courage throughout the story as well. She is a mature seven-year-old girl, and shows her courage in many situations where she stands up for what she believes in even though many disagree with her. Scout demonstrates her courageous quality when she punches Francis because he calls Atticus a “nigger lover.” A quote resembling this scene, is found where her and Francis are having an argument over Atticus: “Francis looked at me carefully, concluded I had been sufficiently subdued, and crooned softly, “nigger lover.” “Thus time I split my knuckle to the bone of his front teeth.” This quote further symbolizes Scout’s courage because it shows how much she really cares for her father. Although violence is not the key to resolving anything, it was very courageous of Scout to punch Francis because she really stood up for her father. Scout was very hurt from Francis’ words and her punching him displayed how much she truly loves Atticus and how she wouldn’t want his feelings to be hurt in any way. Scout also displays courage when she makes her way through the crowd of men, dressed in overalls, who are about to hurt Atticus. She tries to stall them from hurting him by talking with Mr. Cunningham. A quote that represents her courage demonstrated in this scene is found when Scout is trying to look amongst the crowd for a familiar face: “They were sullen looking, sleepy-eyed looking men who seemed unused to late hours. I sought once more for a familiar face, and at the center of a semi-circle I found one.” “Hey, Mr. Cunningham. How’s your entailment gettin’ along?” It was very brave of Scout to make an attempt to save her father by distracting the large crowd of men by speaking with someone she had recognized such as Mr. Cunningham. She tried speaking to him about subjects he would be interested in, hoping that she could stall the crowd. Scout acted very mature which further displayed her courage during that situation.

Finally, Calpurina is another character whose courage is found within the story. She is a black housekeeper that works for the Finch’s. She struggles with many difficulties due to the racial injustice from the towns’ people of Maycomb. Calpurina is very caring and is not a prejudice individual. Her courage is shown when she takes Scout and Jem to her church and stands up to Lula. A quote symbolizing this scene is found where Calpurina, Jem, and Scout enter the church and Lula confronts Cal about bringing white children there. “You ain’t got no business bringin’ white chillun here- they got their church, we got our’n.” Lula says. Calpurina answers, “It’s the same god, ain’t it?” It takes a great deal of courage to stand up to someone because you disagree with him or her. Calpurina demonstrates her courage because she shows that it doesn’t matter what the color of your skin is because God accepts everyone. Calpurina truly stands up for what she believes in by telling Lula that everyone should be welcome at church regardless their skin color. Calpurina also defines courage when she scolds Scout for making fun of Walter Cunningham because of his eating habits. A quote further explaining this scene is found when Cal asks Scout to come to the kitchen so she can speak to her: “There’s some folks that don’t eat like us, but you ain’t called on to contradict ‘em when they do.” This quote from the story, definitely describes her courage because it takes courage first of all to defend another person. Calpurina shows she feels very strongly about making fun of others who may be different. Calpurina deals with racial injustice in Maycomb and understands how it feels to be judged by others. The message that Calpurina tries to get across to Scout is that one shouldn’t judge others because they may be different or by the color of their skin. She shows her courage through her words to Scout.

     To conclude, Atticus, Scout, and Calpurina have truly proven their courageous qualities throughout the novel of To Kill A Mockingbird, along with many other courageous heroes throughout history. The lesson that can be learned from acting as a courageous individual is that sometimes one has to do things in his or her life that may involve making courageous decisions even though the odds of succeeding are against them. If you strongly believe in something, then you should follow your heart and stand up for it regardless of what anyone says. Atticus also states in the story about the concept of courage: “You rarely win, but sometimes you do.” Even if the odds of succeeding may be weak, one should try their very best. It doesn’t matter if you fail because true courage is found in those such as Atticus, Scout, and Calpurina because they have tried their hardest to succeed knowing that the odds were against them.

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