To Kill a Mockingbird

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To Kill a Mockingbird – Essay

How does the novel affect your ideas of personal courage in the face of injustice/prejudice/challenges?

To Kill a Mockingbird is a thought-provoking novel which certainly changes one’s idea of personal courage in the face of challenges such as injustice and prejudice. The text does this through a variety of techniques, including its characters and events. One particular character which very strongly shows personal courage in the face of challenges is Atticus Finch. Atticus is a clear representation of personal courage, showing courage in the face of danger, other’s views and failure.

Firstly, Atticus shows courage in the face of danger. This can be clearly seen in two different incidents: the first is the lynch mob outside the jail, and the second is the scene in which Atticus shoots the mad dog, Tim Johnson. The first example (p 157 to 161) gives an obvious representation of Atticus’ personal courage. Confronted by a mob of men, who are intent on lynching Tom Robinson, and not carrying anything with which to defend himself, Atticus stands his ground. He refuses to allow the mob past, quietly and peacefully, without any violence. His actions in this situation very clearly represent his view of courage: “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.” (p118) Although this reference is from an earlier part of the novel, his actions outside the jail are an embodiment of this attitude. However, contrasting this is the second scene, in which Atticus shoots the mad dog, Tim Johnson (p98 – 105). In this situation, Atticus shows no fear and very calmly shoots the dog; it is also interesting how this contradicts his statement of what courage is. Hence it is clear how Atticus shows courage in the face of danger, both with and without violence, and is prepared to drop his own definition of courage if it is required in order to do the right thing at the time.

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