What are some good quotes related to courage in To Kill A Mockingbird?

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litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I will provide you with three quotes about courage from chapter 11 of To Kill a Mockingbird.  In this chapter, we explore courage in different ways. 

First of all, Scout comments about Jem’s bravery- a bravery that comes from surviving difficult things.

Jem, having survived Boo Radley, a mad dog and other terrors, had concluded that it was cowardly to stop at Miss Rachel's front steps and wait... (ch 11)

This quote about Jem demonstrates one aspect of bravery as explored in the book: you gain it by experience.  Bravery comes with growing up.  As you grow, you face your fears.  Jem used to be afraid of certain things, but as he faced them he became less afraid of new experiences and was able to face his other fears.

Second, fear sometimes means acting according to your conscience.  Scout comments that her father always stops to talk to the mean old Mrs. Dubose.

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. (ch 11)

This powerful quote shows how Scout is beginning to realize that bravery comes in different forms.  She is maturing, and realizing that her father is a remarkable man because of what he does on a daily basis.  Her definition of courage expands to simple things, beyond guns or fighting in wars.

Finally, one of the most significant scenes from the book is in this chapter.  You’ll notice that this chapter is building up to something.  This chapter foreshadows the different kinds of courage that will be needed later.  When Jem destroys Mrs. Dubose’s flowers, his punishment is to sit with her each day.  What she really needs him for is to distract her so that she can wean herself off morphine and die on his own terms.

To Atticus, courage is trying something even when “you know you're licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what” (ch 11).

You rarely win, but sometimes you do… According to her views, she died beholden to nothing and nobody.  She was the bravest person I ever knew. (ch 11)

This is the situation Atticus faces with Tom Robinson’s trial.  He knows that his situation is difficult, and he will probably lose.  Again, the trial does not require physical courage.  It requires the courage to stand up for what you believe in against impossible odds.


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