How does Scout show courage in To Kill a Mockingbird?

Scout shows courage when she stands up for herself and other people and when she opposes things that are unfair. She does not back down in challenging situations, even if it means challenging adults. She also shows courage by being open-minded and learning to accept different points of view.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

For Scout Finch, courage involves both standing up for what she thinks is right and learning to accept that there is more than one way to look at things. Scout’s courage is exhibited physically, as she engages in violent fights. As the novel progresses and Scout grows a few years older, she finds other outlets of expression.

One example occurs when her cousins Francis insults Scout’s father, Atticus, for defending Tom Robinson. Francis calls Atticus a “n— lover.” Although Scout does not actually know what this term means, she is certain that Atticus is doing the right thing. She gets in trouble for punching Francis, but then she stands up for principles. She tells her uncle that he behaved unfairly by punishing her before he heard both sides of the story.

Another display of courage comes when the would-be lynch mob surrounds her father outside the jail. Again Scout does not understand the situation, but she can sense the tension. She takes the initiative to speak with them, starting a conversation with her classmate Walter’s father. She also defends her brother when one of the men grabs Jem, kicking the man and making him let go.

Through much of the novel, Scout is skeptical about being a lady. She finds it unfair to be singled out because she is a girl. When Atticus comes home with the news that Tom has been killed, Scout is helping her aunt host a meeting. Although she would rather go with Atticus to the Robinson house, she is not allowed to go. Listening to Aunt Alexandra and Miss Maudie discuss the situation, she models her courage on their behavior by continuing to serve the women guests. Scout realizes it may take courage to carry on when confronted with a tragic situation.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial