To Kill a Mockingbird Questions and Answers
by Harper Lee

To Kill a Mockingbird book cover
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In To Kill a Mockingbird, how does Atticus Finch (Scout's father) demonstrate courage in defending Tom Robinson?

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In To Kill A Mockingbird, Atticus Finch has to have courage to defend a black man in the deep South in 1930s. During the trial of Tom Robinson, Atticus proved he was courageous. Atticus agreed to represent Tom Robinson even though he was a black man accused of raping a white girl. Atticus knew it would be difficult to persuade an all-white-jury to find a black man not guilty.

When Judge Taylor asked Atticus to defend Tom Robinson, Atticus knew he would face difficult circumstances. Atticus knew he would have to be courageous to endure the suffering he and his family would have to endure. No doubt, Atticus would suffer for defending a black man against a white woman.

Maycomb was a very racial town in the 1930s. Atticus even admitted to his children that he would not win his case. Nevertheless, he knew he had to at least try to win:

Simply because we were licked a hundred years before we started is no reason for us not to try to win.

Atticus knew he would have to be courageous because Maycomb was still a racist town. It took courage for Atticus to defend Tom Robinson. In Maycomb, in the 1930s, there was no way an all-white jury would believe a black man over a white girl.  

Truly, Atticus's children did suffer during the trial. The town called Atticus derogatory names and Jem and Scout had to endure the town's ridicule. Atticus knew this would be part of the suffering he and his children would have to endure. Still, Atticus held his head high and instructed his children to ignore such racial insults. Indeed, Atticus was a courageous man. Even though Atticus lost, he proved himself to be one tough defense attorney. Tom Robinson had some of the best representation in the town. It took courage for Atticus to follow through knowing he was going up against such a racist community. 

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