Courage Quotes In To Kill A Mockingbird

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

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In a bildungsroman such as To Kill a Mockingbird, moral lessons are learned by the maturing protagonist. One of the virtues that Scout and Jem both acquire from their experiences and the example of their father is that of courage.

Without question, Atticus displays courage in Chapter 10 when, unexpectedly, Sheriff Tate tosses him his rifle, and Atticus must take quick aim at the rabid dog coming his way.

With movements so swift they seemed simultaneous, Atticus's hand yanked a ball-tipped lever as he brought the gun to his shoulder. The rifle cracked....Tim Johnson didn't know what hit him. (Ch. 10)

In another instance of Atticus's calm courage, he and the children walk down the street together one day. When they reach the house of Mrs. Dubose, Atticus removes his hat and waves "gallantly to her" as he says, "Good evening, Mrs. Dubose! You look like a picture this evening." After talking to her for a while, Atticus returns his hat to his head, and he and Scout and Jem return home. Scout feels that her father has demonstrated tremendous courage in his calm and polite demeanor before Mrs. Dubose despite his knowledge of her having made insulting comments about him and the children:

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)

Arguably the most courageous of Atticus's acts is his standing up to the mob that comes to the jailhouse in the night, demanding that he turn over Tom Robinson to them. As he sits in one of his office chairs propped on the front door of the jailhouse, Atticus appears to be reading his newspaper. When the dusty cars stop in front of the jail, Atticus calmly looks up from the newspaper, closes it, folds it deliberately, and drops it into his lap. He pushes his hat back and appears to have expected the "Old Sarum tribe." Seemingly undaunted by the mob, Atticus responds to one man's demand, "You know what we want....Get aside from the door, Mr. Finch," by telling Walter Cunningham that he and the others can turn around because Sheriff Tate is nearby. Then, when he is told that the men have sent Tate on a proverbial "wild goose chase," Atticus yet remains calm.

"Well, then...that changes things, doesn't it?" 
"It do," another deep voice said.
"Do you really think so?" Atticus countered.

Atticus asks this question in the same tone as that which he uses with an opponent at checkers. Although his hands tremble as he puts down his newspaper, Atticus's voice continues to remain controlled, evincing his courage. Further, after Scout intervenes by greeting and talking with Mr. Cunningham, the tension of the mob is dispelled. It is only after the Sarum mob departs that Atticus wipes his face with his handkerchief and "blew his nose violently," revealing how nervous he was. He courageously refrained from displaying his fear to the Sarum men.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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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To Kill a Mockingbird

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