To Kill a Mockingbird Questions and Answers
by Harper Lee

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In To Kill a Mockingbird, how does Scout display courage at school?

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Gretchen Mussey eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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In Chapter 9, Scout displays courage at school by refusing fight Cecil Jacobs after he made negative comments about her father. Throughout the novel, Scout has a short temper and tries to solve all of her problems by fighting. She assaults Walter Cunningham Jr., Dill, and Francis for various reasons. Atticus attempts to teach Scout that fighting will not solve her problems. He says,

“You just hold your head high and keep those fists down. No matter what anyone says to you, don’t let ‘em get your goat. Try fighting with your head for a change…it’s a good one, even if it does resist learning.” (Lee 76)

This lesson is easier said than done. When Cecil Jacobs says that Scout's father is a disgrace and calls her a "coward," Scout is tempted to punch him in the face. Scout displays courage by walking away, which is a very hard thing to do. She knows that she has just lost the argument, but does the right thing. Atticus tells his children that real courage is

"when you know you're licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do." (Lee 149)

Scout knew that she had lost the argument by not defending her father, but showed real courage by walking away.

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