Expert Answers
price7781 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Atticus shows courage throughout the novel, and especially when he shoots the rabid dog and defends Tom Robinson in the trial.  A rabid dog has wandered into Maycomb, and Heck Tate asks Atticus to shoot the dog because Heck is afraid he will miss and the bullet will hit the Radley house.  Atticus is known for his shooting abilities, and he has the nickname, “ol’ one shot Finch” from his childhood.  Atticus calmly lowers the rifle and shoots the dog earning the respect of Scout and Jem for his abilities.

In addition, Atticus shows courage when he is appointed Tom Robinson’s lawyer in the trial of Mayella Ewell’s rape.  We first see this courage when he confronts the lynch mob outside the jail.  Atticus is sitting outside the jail protecting Tom from the men in town who don’t think that Tom needs a fair trial.  They already decide that Tom is guilty and try to take justice in their own hands.  Atticus (and his children) stand up to the mob, and the mob end up leaving Tom and Atticus alone.

By accepting the task of defending Tom, Atticus also shows great courage despite the fact that his decision can put his family in danger.  People around town like Mrs. Dubose start calling him names, Scout and Jem get harassed at school, and Bob Ewell is stalking around town stirring up trouble for the judge and Atticus.  Atticus, however, stays true to his convictions and defends Tom to the best of his ability even though Atticus risks his career and family. 

A final courageous thing Atticus does is to go to Helen Robinson and tell her that Tom has been shot trying to escape prison.  His respect for the Robinsons causes him to take on this responsibility. 

Overall, Atticus is a courageous man for raising two children on his own and teaching them the many important lessons he does throughout the novel.  He is also courageous for his attempt to provide justice for a man who is convicted by public opinion and the jury even before he sets foot in the courthouse. 

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question