How does Atticus Finch show moral courage in the community, at home, and in the courthouse in To Kill a Mockingbird?

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bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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Community.  Atticus's moral and physical courage is evident when he makes the decision to stand guard over Tom Robinson alone at the jail. He risks his own personal safety when he faces the lynch mob though he claims that they only " 'might have hurt me a little.' " Another example comes when he picks up his rifle again after 30 years to kill the mad dog that threatens his neighborhood. Atticus had laid down his gun because, according to Miss Maudie,

"... God had given him an unfair advantage over most living things. I guess he decided he wouldn't have to shoot till he had to, and he had to today."  (Chapter 10)

Home.  Atticus stood up to sister Alexandra's bullying tactics when she tried to force him to fire Calpurnia, telling her that their black housekeeper was a

"... faithful member of this family and you'll simply have to accept things the way they are."  (Chapter 14)

He puts his foot down about Scout's use of the "N" word (it's " 'common' "), "compromises" with her about going back to school (Atticus agrees to continue reading to her each evening), and orders an end to the children's Radley game since it was a manner of " 'tormenting that man.' "

Courtroom.  Atticus shows moral courage just by accepting to defend a black man accused of raping a white woman since

"... I'd hoped to get through life without a case of this kind..."  (Chapter 9)

Inside the courtroom, Atticus is forced to "rain questions" upon Mayella, bringing her to tears before she refuses to answer any more of his questions. It is a moral dilemma for the gentlemanly Atticus, who treats women with respect and does not look forward to browbeating a teenage girl.

     When Atticus turned away from Mayella, he looked like his stomach hurt...
Atticus had hit her hard... but it gave him no pleasure. He sat with his head down...  (Chapter 18)

Atticus attempts to shame the all-white jury when he reminds them that it is an

"... evil assumption--that all Negroes lie, that all Negroes are basically immoral beings... (Chapter 20)

and that Tom's skin color should not matter in a courtroom where " 'all men are created equal.' " He implores them--

"In the name of God, do your duty...
"In the name of God, believe him."  (Chapter 20)

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