Courage in to Kill a Mockingbird

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As a child grows and matures, so does their idea of courage. Harper Lee’s novel To Kill a Mockingbird shows this maturation of courage through the protagonist, Scout. The novel is set in 1930s south; the town can be compared to most towns of the time where rumors spread and everyone knows everyone else’s stories. This town gossip leads to Scout’s early idea of courage. Scout’s perspective of courage grows from seeing Jem perform a courageous act of touching the Radley house, to seeing Atticus take up arms and shoot a dog, to realizing that true courage exists within oneself. The Radley house has always been a mystery to the children of Maycomb County, the town where Scout lives. According to Jem, Boo Radley six and a half feet tall, ate squirrels and cats, and had a long scar across his face. One summer, Dill, a friend of the children, dared Jem to touch the Radley house. Dill told Jem, “…the folks in Meridian certainly weren’t as afraid as the folks in Maycomb…” (Lee 13). This was enough to persuade Jem into touching the house. After this amazing feat, Scout looks at Jem as the most courageous person. Due to all of the stories that eluded the Radley residence, the idea that Jem was able to muster up enough courage to touch the house was enough to make Scout idealize him. As Scout grows older, her ideas of courage expand even more. A catalyst to this expansion of courage occurs after she witnesses Atticus shoot the rabid dog. Atticus shows his children that he was courageous when he stepped into the street to shoot rabid dog. Scout narrates after witnessing this act, “It was times like these when I thought my father, who hated guns and had never been to any wars, was the bravest man who ever lived” (Lee #). Although Atticus did not consider the act particularly courageous, Jem and Scout were impressed by his valor. To the eyes of a young child, Scout still views courage as performing acts which other people will not do. In this case, Atticus “One-Shot Finch”...
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