How does Scout demonstrate courage in To Kill a Mockingbird?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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One way in which Scout demonstrates courage is through her nonconformity.  Scout never capitulates to what others do and withstands the tendency for "groputhink" that is so much a part of Maycomb society.  When Scout shows this in front of others, it is evident that there is courage in her actions:  "I had leaped triumphantly into a ring of people I had never seen before… 'Don't you touch him!' I kicked the man swiftly. Bare-footed, I was surprised to see him fall back in real pain."  For Scout, being able to stand up for that which she sees as right is a part of her courageous essence and identity.  Scout embodies courage in how she is able to challenge the larger contingent of society and stand up for what she believes is morally right.  In this, Scout shows courage. While it might be argued that she is simply doing her job, it is clear that she has a choice.  She could choose to be part of the group that she knows is wrong or remain distinct from it.  In choosing to be distinct from it, she shows courage in the conviction of her actions and in standing for her beliefs.  

Scout also shows courage in being able to listen and heed the words of her father.  Over the course of the story, she shows courage in resisting the temptation to fight:  "I drew a bead on him, remembered what Atticus had said, then dropped my fists and walked away, 'Scout's a coward!' ringing in my ears. It was the first time I ever walked away from a fight."  In "walking away," Scout shows courage because she shows the willingness to learn and grow.  In maturing and appropriating it as a part of her own identity in the world, she shows courage because she embraces what can be instead of what is.  Through such a transformation, courage is evident.

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