Courage in to Kill a Mockingbird

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Courage in to Kill a Mockingbird

By | September 2008
Page 1 of 4
"I wanted to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun." What kinds of heroism and courage are shown in To Kill a Mockingbird? Discuss. Courage is defined as "the quality of mind or spirit enabling one to meet danger or opposition with fearlessness." According to Atticus Finch, one of the main characters in To Kill a Mockingbird, "Courage is when you know you're licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what." (pg.121). Harper Lee clearly portrays the theme of courage in her novel, To Kill a Mockingbird. One likes to think of a hero, as strong, brave, and meeting all challenges head on. All the characters in this book have a different view as to what courage is, and they all show it in different ways through their everyday lives. Younger characters, like Jem and Scout, see the physical aspect of it, whereas Atticus believes this to be an extremely weak form of courage. He believes in the mental quality of courage. The ability to be in minority and not back down and to be able to change; he admires Mrs. Dubose for her acts of courage that are against all odds. For a younger character, like Scout, courage is often associated with a physical act that is usually dangerous. It is hard for young children to realize that courage can be shown in other aspects of life. Scout sees an example of courage in her father when he shoots the mad dog Tim Johnson (pg.101). Although Atticus does not think of it as very courageous, Jem and Scout are proud of their father and the courage he showed in this dangerous situation. Atticus views courage on a more intellectual level, as a moral thing not something that can be proved with a weapon. Later on in the story, Jem and Scout encounter the vindictive, spiteful Mrs. Dubose who often shouts out racism directed at the passing children because of Atticus’ job. At one point she proclaimed, "Your father's no better than the niggers and trash he works for!"...