How does Scout demonstrate courage in To Kill a Mockingbird?

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Scout is depicted as an outspoken, charismatic girl who continually demonstrates courage and is not afraid to take a stand for what she believes in. On Scout's first day of school, Walter Cunningham Jr. refuses to accept Miss Caroline's quarter but is too timid to explain why he will not...

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Scout is depicted as an outspoken, charismatic girl who continually demonstrates courage and is not afraid to take a stand for what she believes in. On Scout's first day of school, Walter Cunningham Jr. refuses to accept Miss Caroline's quarter but is too timid to explain why he will not accept it. Scout demonstrates courage by sticking up for her friend and speaking on his behalf. When Scout feels that Miss Caroline is being unfair, she loses her composure and raises her voice.

Scout also demonstrates courage in chapter 6 by tagging along with Jem and Dill as they raid the Radley yard. Despite the fact that Scout is terrified of Boo, she shows courage by entering his spooky backyard at night. Scout also demonstrates courage in chapter 15 when she runs out into the middle of a lynch mob. Although Scout does not recognize the gravity of the situation, her decision to sprint into the group of men indirectly saves Tom's life.

One could argue that Scout also demonstrates courage by attending the Tom Robinson trial. Scout, Jem, and Dill are well aware that the majority of Maycomb's community hopes that Atticus will lose the case but decide to attend the trial. Despite the hostile nature of the environment, Scout watches from the Negro balcony as Tom becomes the tragic victim of racial injustice.

Scout also displays courage in chapter 24 by participating in Aunt Alexandra's missionary circle. Although Scout feels extremely uncomfortable, she quietly sits among the local ladies and takes note of their blatant hypocrisy. When Atticus interrupts the missionary circle, Scout follows Maudie, Alexandra, and Cal into the kitchen and listens as Atticus describes Tom's recent death. Scout once again demonstrates courage by composing herself, entering the living room, and continuing to participate in the social event without letting her emotions get the best of her.

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Scout is a scrappy, courageous little girl (although she is afraid of Boo Radley). One place she shows courage comes near the end of the novel. Jem and Scout know they are being stalked as they return in their Halloween costumes from the pageant. They are aware Bob Ewell wants revenge for Atticus humiliating him at the Tom Robinson trial, though they don't know who is tailing them: they simply call him Shuffle-foot. It is a very dark night. As he comes running for them, they can tell he is not a fellow schoolmate and that this is no Halloween prank. Jem shouts to Scout to run. She does so until she hears Jem scream:

I ran in the direction of Jem’s scream and sank into a flabby male stomach.

Scout shows courage in turning around and running towards their pursuer to help her brother at a very dangerous moment. She is not the type of person to leave him to fend for himself or even to go for help. She is right there with him, despite the danger.

Although she tries to shrug it off as habit, Scout shows courage at the end of the novel too when she interacts with Boo. Initially, she runs aways from him, to Jem's bed, but is ashamed of herself. When her father wants her to lead Boo to the porch, she does so, saying:

“Come along, Mr. Arthur,” I heard myself saying, “you don’t know the house real well. I’ll just take you to the porch, sir.”

She talks to him and shows sensitivity to his needs. Given the context of how frightened she has been of him, this takes some nerve—and shows her growth in being able to shed a prejudice, another form of courage.

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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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I'm not sure that I would call Scout particularly courageous in To Kill a Mockingbird, but some of her actions would be considered courageous if not for her reasons for initiating them. The fact that Scout is willing to duke it out with any boy who rubs her the wrong way could be called brave, but it is Scout's temper who pushes her into these scrapes--not a sense of honor. When Scout intercedes between Atticus and the lynch mob, it would be considered a particularly brave act--if Scout had understood what was going on between the men. Scout had no idea that Tom's and Atticus's lives were in jeopardy: She simply began making innocent conversation after recognizing Mr. Cunningham. Of course, her temper led her to take on yet another male--this time an adult one--when she defended Jem when one of the lynch mob grabbed him by the collar.

I kicked the man swiftly. Barefooted, I was surprised to see him fall back in real pain. I intended to kick his shin, but aimed too high.

Perhaps Scout's most courageous moment came at the Missionary Circle tea when she managed to hold her tongue after Miss Stephanie made fun of her. She listened to Mrs. Merriweather's hypocritical diatribe silently, and then watched her Aunt Alexandra and Miss Maudie recover from the news of Tom's death and return to serving refreshments, as if nothing had happened. Although Scout hated the idea of becoming a lady,

... if Aunty could be a lady at a time like this, so could I.

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