In Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird, what scenes show Scout acting courageously? Please provide explanations.

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tinicraw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

At the beginning of Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, Scout is an impulsive little girl who isn't afraid to throw a punch to protect her honor; however, acting impulsively isn't necessarily a demonstration of courage. Courage is facing difficult situations with self-control and fortitude. One example of Scout showing courage is in front of a mob of men in chapter 15. For example, when the children find Atticus at the jail on the night before the Tom Robinson trial, they overhear the men talking with him. Scout doesn't completely comprehend what is going on, but she does know that something serious is going on when her father says to the men, "Do you really think so?" This phrase is familiar to Scout because she hears it only when Atticus knows he's right and someone else is wrong. It also makes Scout believe that something serious is about to happen, which she explains as follows:

"This was the second time I heard Atticus ask that question in two days and it meant somebody's man would get jumped. This was too good to miss. I broke away from Jem and ran as fast as I could to Atticus" (152).

As shown above, Scout impulsively runs through the heart of a mob to get a look at the action. She doesn't know the complete seriousness of the situation, but nonetheless, she goes without looking back. Once there, she turns her impulsiveness into something courageous by speaking to Mr. Cunningham about her friendship with his son. She also reminds him of how Atticus helps him with his many legal issues. By continuing to talk about neighborly things, Scout softens Mr. Cunningham's heart, and he calls off the mob. Fortunately, Scout is able to turn an impulsive act into a courageous one that turns out well for everyone involved. 

Another example of Scout demonstrating courage is in chapter 24 during her Aunt Alexandra's tea party. At one point during the party, Scout and Aunt Alexandra are trembling because of they've just found out that Tom Robinson has died. They are also feeling stress and anger because of the prejudiced women in their home. After a little motivation from Miss Maudie, though, Aunt Alexandra and Scout square up their shoulders and confidently walk back into the living room to act as proper hostesses for their guests. 

Rather than cowering in the corner and crying because of the stress, Scout shows that she can maintain control of herself in spite of the public pressure. Scout even says, "After all, if Aunty could be a lady at a time like this, so could I" (237). This quote shows that Scout now understands that being a lady is not just wearing pretty dresses and holding a teacup with the pinky extended. Being a lady means facing the community and stress with confidence and poise. It also means having the courage not to lose one's self-control in front of others.

waterreef | Student

In Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird several scenes show Scout acting courageously. One such scene takes place in her class, in first year, when she tries subtly and somewhat crisply to assist Miss Caroline in understanding the reason for Walter’s unwillingness to accept her small monetary loan.  When she realizes that telling her new teacher, he is a ‘Cunningham’ does not suffice in bringing closure to her questioning, Scout risks being rebuked and continues to explain to Miss Caroline that Walter would not accept the quarter as he would get no quarter to return the next day. Her explanation to Miss Caroline demonstrates courage as she bravely acts as self appointed spoke person in order to save a fellow classmate from further embarrassment.

 Another scene which reveals her courage is her encounter with Cecil Jacobs, when she confronts him for his unkind remarks about her father, “You, gonna take that back, boy.” Cecil, however, refuses and repeats his offensive remarks. Although, she is enraged by Cecil’s unapologetic stance and his continued derision of her father, Scout chooses not to fight due to her promise to her father to keep her, ‘fist down’.  She proudly walks away from the provoked fight and rather endures being called a coward. For a young girl it is a display of remarkable courage and self discipline.

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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