Besides Atticus and Mrs. Dubose, what minor characters show courage in To Kill a Mockingbird? How do they demonstrate this courage? Provide quotes for support. 

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Minor characters in To Kill a Mockingbird who demonstrate courage are Miss Maudie, Calpurnia, Mr. Underwood, Boo Radley, and Sheriff Tate.

  • Miss Maudie

--Miss Maudie is not afraid to defy public opinion. Whenever the children speak of Boo Radley, Miss Maudie is quick to encourage them to leave Boo alone. She does not repeat the gossip of others; instead, she is sympathetic to Boo, and tells the children that he lives in "a sad house":

"I remember Arthur Radley when he was a boy. He always spoke nicely to me, no matter what folks said he did. Spoke as nicely as he knew how."

When "the foot-washing Baptists" pass through the streets, they shout scripture at Miss Maudie in criticism of her gardens--

"He that cometh in vanity departeth in darkness!"

But, with pluck she retorts equally, quoting Scripture which refutes the woman's castigation: "A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance!"

--Perhaps her most courageous moment comes when Miss Maudie sarcastically asks the hypocritical Mrs. Merriweather, who has previously praised the missionary work in Africa of her pastor, but derogates her Aftrican-American maid Sophy, if her husband's food (that Sophy has cooked) sticks as he tries to swallow it.

"Maudie, I'm sure I don't know what you mean," said Mrs. Merriweather.
"I'm sure you do," Miss Maudie said shortly [meaning curtly].

  • Calpurnia

One Sunday Calpurnia takes Jem and Scout with her to church so that they can better understand the conditions under which Tom Robinson and others live. However, one of the church members, Lula, is offended by their presence: 

"You ain't got no business bringin' white chillun here--they got their church, we got our'n. It is our church, ain't , Miss Cal?"
Calpurnia said, "It's the same God, ain't it?"

  • Mr. Underwood

Although he has a reputation for hating African-Americans, Mr. Underwood has the integrity and courage to acknowledge the terrible injustice of what has happened to the innocent Tom Robinson. With forthrightness, Mr. Underwood writes in the Maycomb Tribune an editorial decrying the cruelty of the racial bias of Maycomb's jurors who sentenced an innocent man and, thereby caused his death. Scout describes his editorial,

Mr. Underwood was at his most bitter, and he couldn't have cared less who canceled advertising and subscriptions....Mr. Underwood simply figured it was a sin to kill cripples, be they standing, sitting, or escaping. He likened Tom's death to the senseless slaughter of songbirds by hunters and children....

  • Boo Radley

A recluse for years, Boo Radley is further repressed by his brother Nathan after Mr. Radley dies. (e.g. His attempts to communicate with the children is foiled when Mr. Nathan cements the knothole of their tree in which Boo has left handmade toys and gum.) Nevertheless, Boo continues to be vigilant of the children. When he hears the struggles of Jem and Scout on their walk home from the school program, he courageously leaves his house and accosts Bob Ewell, struggling with him until Ewell is stabbed in the throat with his own knife. Clearly, he has risked his own life to save those of the Finch children.
Sheriff Tate tells Atticus,

"I never heard tell that it's against the law for citizen to do his utmost to prevent a crime from being committed, which is exactly what he did...."

  • Sheriff Tate

Sheriff Tate bravely takes it upon himself to report the cause of death of Bob Ewell's as his having fallen upon his own knife. Tate asserts that he will not include in his report the name of Arthur Radley, who played an important part in Bob's death because it will serve no good purpose; on the contrary, it will only expose poor Arthur to gossip and public scrutiny. Mr. Tate tells Atticus:

There's a black boy dead for no reason, and the man responsible for it's dead. Let the dead bury the dead this time, Mr. Finch. Let the dead bury the dead.

Atticus understands his reasoning and appeals to Scout to understand. She does, saying to involve Boo in the incident would "... be sort of like shootin' a mockingbird, wouldn't it?" 

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

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