How could Atticus Finch be considered both a risk taker and also an ambassador?

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lhc eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I love this question!  First of all, most obviously, Atticus's willingness to be a risk-taker is clearly demonstrated when he is appointed to defend Tom Robinson, and then makes it clear that he intends to do his best to give Tom Robinson a good defense.  This puts him squarely at odds with most of the citizens of Maycomb, for whom Tom Robinson's guilt is a foregone conclusion because he is black.  Atticus's safety is threatened directly by the mob that comes to the jail where Tom Robinson is being held; it doesn't take a lot of deep thought to infer what they have come to do, lynch Tom Robinson.  Atticus can be thought to be an ambassador in the sense that, as Miss Maudie points out to Scout and Jem one day, he is exactly the same person on the street as he is within the walls of his home.  He is honest and operates with integrity and faith in the goodness of people, almost to a fault.  His naivete about the intentions of Bob Ewell nearly cost his children their lives, and when he makes the decision to go along with Heck Tate to protect Arthur Radley from public scrutiny at the novel's end, we see his "ambassador" side.  Normally unwilling to compromise the truth for any reason, Atticus agrees to go along with the story that Bob Ewell fell on his knife to keep "Boo" Radley's life from being disrupted in a way that would surely not be good for him. 

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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