How does Atticus Finch show courage in To Kill A Mockingbird?

Atticus Finch shows courage in To Kill a Mockingbird by mounting a strong defense of Tom Robinson in the face of the disapproval of Maycomb's white community. He has the courage to risk both himself and his children to do this, even though he knows he will lose the case. He also shows courage when he kills the rabid dog, Tim Johnson.

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Atticus shows courage in To Kill a Mockingbird when he mounts a strong defense of Tom Robinson. This is courageous because the white community in Maycomb is hostile to the idea of a fair trial for a black man accused of raping a white woman. As far as the white people of Maycomb are concerned, an accusation of a white person against black person is the equivalent of the truth. Atticus knows his children will be criticized and attacked as well as him, but he has the courage to face that, too.

Atticus is courageous in putting his mind and heart into defending Tom Robinson when he knows from the start it is a losing cause. Atticus defines courage as standing up for what is right even when you know you can't win.

Atticus's courage is on display, too, when he kills the rabid dog, Tim Johnson. He stands up to the fear of being attacked and bitten, shooting the dog when everyone has cleared off the streets in fear. In this instance, Atticus also shows modesty: he feels no need to brag about either his skills as a sharpshooter or his bravery.

Atticus consistently shows courage in doing what is right even when it is not easy or safe to do so.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on April 20, 2020
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In To Kill A Mockingbird, Atticus teaches his children what courage is. In chapter 10, Scout and Jem are surprised when their peaceful, non violent father is called to shoot the rabid dog in the street. Atticus shows courage by making the shot, as he must kill the dog before it can hurt anybody, and only has one shot to do so. He demonstrates courage further by not bragging about his talent, and choosing to live a peaceful life instead of often using his gun.

"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 anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do."

Atticus says this quote at the end of chapter 11, after Mrs. Dubose dies. Atticus makes Jem go to Mrs. Dubose's house and read to her every day, and it is not until afterward that Atticus explains Mrs. Dubose was battling a morphine addiction, and the reading helped her end it. Atticus explains what real courage is in order to teach his children.

Atticus demonstrates this moral courage by accepting Tom Robinson's case and truly fighting for him. Atticus is assigned the case, but people become angry when they see that Atticus does all he can to help Tom get off. According to society, Atticus should not put forth his best effort in the defense, but Atticus does what he knows is right even if it is not popular.

Atticus shows courage when his children are attacked at the end of the novel. He believes Jem has killed Mr. Ewell, but does not want Heck Tate to cover it up.

"Heck," Atticus's back was turned. "If this thing's hushed up it'll be a simple denial to Jem of the way I've tried to raise him. Sometimes I think I'm a total failure as a parent, but I'm all they've got. Before Jem looks at anyone else he looks at me, and I've tried to live so I can look squarely back at him."

Atticus shows a moral courage throughout the novel in what he says, does, and teaches to his children.

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Considering the residual racism in Maycomb, Atticus shows courage in taking Tom Robinson's case. He knows that people will be critical of him and his children because of this decision. This is one of the many examples in which Atticus does the right thing even if that means he will face opposition as a result.

While Tom Robinson is being held in Maycomb's jail, Atticus takes it upon himself to guard the jail. He suspects some of the more racist citizens in town might come to attack and/or kill Tom. Even though Mr. Underwood was there to back him up, it certainly was brave of Atticus to sit outside the jail by himself so that he would be there to confront the mob.

In Chapter 23, Atticus explains to Jem why he did not retaliate when Bob Ewell spit on him:

Jem, see if you can stand in Bob Ewell’s shoes a minute. I destroyed his last shred of credibility at that trial, if he had any to begin with. The man had to have some kind of comeback, his kind always does. So if spitting in my face and threatening me saved Mayella Ewell one extra beating, that’s something I’ll gladly take. He had to take it out on somebody and I’d rather it be me than that houseful of children out there. You understand?

This is an example of bravery and restraint. Atticus shows incredible courage and thoughtfulness in taking Mr. Ewell's abuse without reacting. He selflessly reasons that this might save Mayella some abuse.

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