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In To Kill a Mockingbird, how does Atticus show courage throughout the book?  

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snowflakes12 | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted March 2, 2009 at 10:09 AM via web

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In To Kill a Mockingbird, how does Atticus show courage throughout the book?

 

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Susan Hurn | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted March 2, 2009 at 10:19 AM (Answer #1)

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Atticus Finch is an archetype of personal courage in the novel, and his courage is demonstrated again and again. Atticus not only takes Tom Robinson's case, he defends Tom vigorously, pitting himself against the prevailing attitudes and customs of Maycomb. Atticus stands up to his neighbors' racism, knowing that in doing so, he is exposing himself and his family to difficult times. His moral courage is as strong as his physical courage, which is also demonstrated in the novel.

Atticus shows great physical courage when he positions himself between Tom Robinson and the lynch mob that has come for him. Sitting alone in front of the jail, Atticus waits for what he expects will happen. He is unarmed. The only time he shows fear occurs when the children suddenly show up and put themselves at risk. Atticus shows no fear for his own safety. With courage, he once again honors his moral principles, protecting Tom's life by risking his own.

Another display of Atticus' courage concerns his shooting of the rabid dog in front of the Radley house. Heck Tate turns to Atticus to kill the sick animal. Although he hasn't fired a gun in years. Atticus accepts the responsibility to bring the dog down in one shot, knowing that if he misses, disaster will result. 

Throughout the novel, Atticus acts with courage in living up to his principles and in accepting moral responsibility. 

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harry7459 | Student, Grade 11 | Honors

Posted April 15, 2012 at 5:44 AM (Answer #2)

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Moral courage is the ability to act rightly in the face of popular opposition, shame, scandal, or discouragement. This is displayed when Atticus defends Tom because he cannot defend himself and he knows he will not get a fair trial. This shows Atticus’s morals are strong and despite knowing the consequences he sticks by his morals and defends Tom ‘displaying his point of view’ despite that a black man is always guilty. Atticus is ‘same in his house as he is on the public street’ strongly shows the moral courage displayed by him. Atticus does not regret Calpurnia disciplining his children as ‘[Calpurnia] tried to bring them up according to her lights, and Cal's lights are pretty good’. Atticus’s acceptance of Calpurnia as ‘parent’ is a brave thing to do, as this is not normal within Maycomb, to let a black woman discipline their children, therefore Atticus showed a moral act, which took a lot of courage. Bob Ewell coming up to Atticus and spitting on him shows great disrespect to Atticus, however he refuses to step down to Bob Ewell's level.  Ewell realizes he failed to lure Atticus into a fight, he says, "too proud to fight..." to which Atticus responds, "No, too old.". This shows that Atticus has strong morals against violence, and does not condone Ewells actions. The notion of real courage is shown throughout the novel by using moral courage.

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