Does anyone have any good ideas for characters with strengths and weaknesses in To Kill a Mockingbird?

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tinicraw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

People usually do have strengths and weaknesses--except for Atticus. He seems to be the one man in the whole novel who is completely perfect. A few characters who could be analyzed for their strengths and weaknesses are Boo Radley, Jem Finch, and Tom Robinson. First, Boo Radley's weakness could be social anxiety. Sheriff Heck Tate says Boo is shy; that's why he doesn't come out of his house. This could be considered a weakness because Boo limits the joys of life to his own home, rather than experiencing the outside world. On the other hand, he is strong to stay in doors because he doesn't allow the gossip or myths about him in town influence how he wants to live his life. And when the children are in danger of their lives, it is Boo Radley who steps in like a hero and saves them. So, even though Boo Radley seems weak, he can show strength when he wants to and when his friends are in danger.

Next, there's Jem Finch. His strengths are that he is brave, confident, and can be kind. However, he has a temper that he takes out on his sister sometimes. For example, when he gets angry at Mrs. Dubose in chapter 11, he chops up the old lady's camellia bushes and roughs up Scout in the process. Scout describes the attack as follows:

"He did not begin to calm down until he had cut to tops off every camellia bush Mrs. Dubose owned . . . He bent my baton against his knee, snapped it in two and threw it down. By that time I was shrieking. Jem yanked my hair, said he didn't care, he'd do it again if he got a chance, and if I didn't shut up he'd pull every hair out of my head. I didn't shut up and he kicked me" (103).

Jem is a good big brother most of the time, for which he is strong; but, when he gets angry, he can be rude and rough with Scout.

Finally, Tom Robinson is strong because he stands up for himself in a white court of law. He knows that the odds are against him, but he shows up to court, bravely tells the truth, and doesn't lose his composure in the process. He could have just rolled over and admitted to doing what the Ewells' said he did, but he didn't. His weakness, however, is impatience. Rather than wait for Atticus to submit an appeal, he takes his chances by running from prison. As a result, he dies while attempting to climb over a prison fence.  


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To Kill a Mockingbird

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