To Kill a Mockingbird: Theme of Courage

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What is courage? Is courage somebody charging headlong into a fight to save someone? Is courage standing up for one's beliefs in front of one's peers? Or is courage a different entity altogether? Harper Lee explores the theme of courage in the novel "To Kill a Mockingbird" through the actions of Mrs. Dubose, Atticus Finch, and Boo Radley.

To describe Mrs. Dubose one would have to think of the most vile, crotchety, and all-around evil old woman they knew, and double that. Although she might have been a rude woman Mrs. Dubose had that special thing that is called courage. As explained by Atticus, "I wanted you to see something about her-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 you're licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do" (Lee 93). Mrs. Dubose had been a morphine addict for a while and wanted to die a free woman. She probably knew that she might not accomplish this, but she tried anyways. In this case, one of the very few, she actually succeeded. Sometimes though, courage is something very different than beating an addiction even though you probably can't.

Some may think that courage is only a momentary thing, something that only happens in the thick of some fight or war, but courage is something that only certain people have. That courage may not be the same type of courage as the courage a soldier has, it may not be the same courage that a little old lady has, but it is courage none-the-less. This kind of courage is demonstrated by people like Atticus Finch. When a controversial case came up, and he was assigned to it, he defended the man accused of a horrible crime. Atticus tried to explain to his daughter why he was defending the man and came up with this, "For a number of reasons,' said Atticus. 'The main one is, if I didn't I couldn't hold up my head in town, I couldn't...
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