How is courage shown throughout the novel To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee?

Expert Answers
bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Author Harper Lee reminds the reader through the voice of Atticus that real courage is usually not found in the form of

"... a man with a gun in his hand."  (Chapter 11)

Atticus worries that his children might make too much of his marksmanship skills after watching him take down the mad dog with a single shot between the eyes. Atticus does not equate guns with courage, as he tries to explain to the children after they receive air rifles as Christmas presents. Instead, real courage comes in the form of Mrs. Dubose, who fightx to eliminate her morphine addiction before dying. Real courage, according to Atticus, is

"... when you know you're licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what."  (Chapter 11)

Courage comes in the form of Boo Radley, who makes the unusual choice to retreat from the outside world to one within the walls of the Radley house. But when "Boo's children" need him, he comes to their rescue in heroic fashion. Courage comes in the form of Tom Robinson, a black man who risks his own safety to help out a poor white woman, Mayella Ewell, when she claims to need his help. Tom shows moral courage by telling the truth about the incident and taking his chances with white man's laws. Perhaps Atticus best displays personal courage when he decides to defend Tom, knowing that his decision may put his life--and, ultimately, the lives of his family--in danger. Later, when Atticus stands alone at the jail in defiance of the lynch mob, Scout and Jem see first-hand their father's bravery and strong belief in personal justice.

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question