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Above all, in Harper Lee's "To Kill a Mockingbird" Scout's lessons in courage teach her that the attribute of courage is quiet. For, often Atticus Finch's acts of courage are unobtrusive and subtle. Quietly and methodically, Atticus places his glasses upon his forehead, takes aim, and kills the rabid dog. Just as quietly, he sits firmly in front of the jail when the mob of men come to demand Tom Robinson.
Courageously defending Atticus against the other townspeople and Boo Radley's right to remain inside his house, the Finches' neighbor, Miss Maudie, exhibits great fortitude when her house burns, she says that she hated it, anyway. Another neighbor, Mrs. DuBose battles morphine addiction quietly in her bed. The courage that Atticus Finch and Boo Radley and Miss Maudie and Mrs. DuBose exhibit is a humble trait, not one that is theatrical like the hypocritical missionary teas of Aunt Alexandra.
In To Kill a Mockingbird Scout learns that there are many different kinds of courage. Let me remind you about some of them, and you can see if you can find some more. There is courage in the face of danger, such as Jem protecting Scout as they try to return home in the dark. There is also courage in standing up for what you believe in. Atticus Finch demonstrates such courage by defying society's rules about race when he represents Tom Robinson. Atticus is brave in defending Tom Robinson because he stands up for what he believes in, even though his decision might make him an outcast. He demonstrates courage in the face of physical danger when he stands up to an angry mob, and when he faces a rabid dog and shoots it. Atticus is also brave in smaller ways. He is brave because he raises his children on his own, without the assistance of a woman. This was unheard of. Throughout the novel, Scout also witnesses Boo Radley’s acts of courage, including the hugely courageous act of leaving his house to rescue Scout and Jim. She comes to realize that Boo’s leaving gifts in the tree is also a smaller act of courage. Some characters demonstrate bravery in some instances and cowardice in others. Mayalla Ewell is brave when she shows affection for Tom but not brave when she lies about the relationship. Jem was not courageous enough to admit to his father that he snuck into the Radley house, but he is courageous enough to return to retrieve his torn pants. Now see if you can identify other examples of courage in this novel.
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