What is Atticus' most important or bravest action?What is Atticus' most important or bravest action?

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amarang9 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

His most important and bravest action is representing Tom. He takes a case he knows he can’t win. He knows he will be ridiculed and hated by some for taking the case. He has the courage to see the larger social impact this will have; a small dent in Maycomb’s (and the country’s) racist tradition. Atticus knows Maycomb’s social maturity will be a long gradual process.

Representing Tom and enduring the criticism and discrimination of others in the town is the most significant thing Atticus does in the novel. It is brave because he’s on his own with the exception of the black citizens of the town. He has their support but they have no political voice and are relegated to the balcony in the courthouse. So, he also feels pressure to make a good case; for their sakes and to live up to his own sense of morality and justice. In general, because Atticus teaches by example and he is always acting on behalf of justice, his bravest and most important action is the way he carries himself overall, and certainly during and in the wake of the trial.

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Certainly, his resistance to the demands of the mob at the jail is an act of bravery since Atticus's very life is in danger in this tense situation.  Still, his choice to defend Tom Robinson is one that demands uncommon valor from Atticus Finch.  For, this choice is one that affects the Finches not only for the one day, but for the time before the trial, during the trial, and after the trial.  In instances before the trial, Scout and Jem are subjected to insults that their father is a n--lover,men confront Atticus at both his home and the jailhouse, his sister and brother question his wisdom, and his townspeople derogate him in his own home [Mrs. Merriweather at the Missionary tea]. 

Atticus Finch's acceptance of the role of defender is very brave because he goes against the established mores of his Maycomb society, in a valorous effort to uphold principle.  Knowing that one is defeated before one starts, but beginning anyway takes the bravest heart.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that Atticus's bravest action is one that he does not do.  I think that his bravest action is to avoid being the sort of man that his kids want him to be.  I am referring here to how the kids look at him before he shoots the mad dog.

As a father, I know that I want my kids to look up to me.  I would think that it would be very difficult to handle it if they did not.  So here's Atticus and he's an amazingly good shot.  His kids would be as impressed as anything if they knew.  Yet, because of his convictions, he does not show his skill.

That, to me, is very brave.  To purposely allow your kids to think less of you because of your moral/ethical values would be a very difficult thing to do.  Sure, it's brave to represent Tom and to have so many people in the town look down at him.  But his kids' opinions are surely more important to Atticus.  That's why I think this is the bravest thing he does/doesn't do.

scarletpimpernel eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Atticus's bravest action is taking on Tom Robinson's case and defending him as thoroughly as possible. When Atticus accepted Tom's case, he knew that it would make life very difficult for his children. While he was willing to endure comments from the townspeople, some of whom were supposed to be his friends, he realized that his decision would also cause his children to endure comments and prejudice.

Similarly, Atticus doesn't just accept the case because he is doing Heck Tate a favor; rather, he knows that it is the right thing to do. So, instead of going through the motions of defending Tom even when the outcome of the trial is essentially predetermined, Atticus uses every legal technique in his arsenal to try to prove Tom's innocence. Other lawyers from this time period most likely would have defended Tom but would not have put Atticus's passion into their defense.

booboosmoosh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Atticus' most important and bravest action is being true to his moral compass.

He defends Tom Robinson even though it's an unpopular move and his kids take a lot of grief from almost everyone. (And as someone else mentioned, he has little hope of winning.)

He is kind when other people are not, including Mrs. Dubose and Bob Ewell.

And he takes the high road not just because he believes it is right to do so, but because he never wants to do anything that would comprise his integrity in his children's eyes. And perhaps that is the bravest thing—that he does what needs to be done, not what is easiest, to raise his children well. Parenting is probably the hardest thing in the world to do...especially if you want to do it well. So much rests on doing the best job you know how, and maybe more than you know how.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Atticus’s bravest and most significant action is raising his children as he believes is right, even though his beliefs differ so greatly from society’s.  For a man to raise two children on his own in the 1930s would be bravery to begin with, but raising them to believe that all people deserve to be treated with dignity and respect was unpopular.  Atticus teaches his children to respect the Cunninghams and the Robinsons.  He also respects them himself.  These are revolutionary, controversial, and very brave actions.  He even stands up to his sister when Alexandra disagrees with him.

ask996 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I would agree that the most courageous thing Atticus did was to not just talk the talk but to walk the walk as a single parent no less. The values of right and wrong were easy enough to determine, but to follow through with these ideas of right in both his personal and professional life was not easy, but Atticus did just that. He didn't have one set of standards for himself and one for others. Nor did he excuse injustice of any kind. Remember why he wouldn't let Jem shoot the mockingbirds?

Susan Hurn eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The most important action Atticus takes, for himself and for his children, is matching his words with his deeds. Atticus lives a life of personal integrity every day. As Miss Maudie observes to Jem and Scout, Atticus is the same man on the public streets as he is at home. Atticus maintains his self-respect, even in the most difficult times. He earns and deserves the respect of his children because he shows them how a decent person lives in the world.

kiwi eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I agree that his bravest action is representing Tom, but also in using the opportunity to educate his children in to his calm, measured egalitarian approach to life and those around him. Atticus shows that he is not afraid of being right, even when the balance of power is against him. This courage in front of his children and the whole town, is formidable.

accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The conviction of Atticus to stand up for what he believes is right and to continue to support that even when that places both himself and his children in danger is something that we can all admire in him. On another note, I think it is pretty brave of him to bring up his two children so successfully by himself without his wife.

lrwilliams eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I would have to agree the the courage it took to represent Tom Robinson was the bravest thing he did. The fact that he took this case put him and his family in danger. I think this is a great example of what it takes to show that you are indeed someone who stands on principle.

zumba96 | Student

I think the most important was taking up Tom's case. Tom was an African man and by taking up his case, many people shunned him, yet he did not care. This was good because he went for justice and did not care what other people thought of him. He wanted to show people what was the right thing to do and how we should follow it. 

naye785805 | Student

I want to know about the blacks in the balcony.

iceprince403 | Student

His bravest action was either not becoming what his children wished he would be, not losing his head EVER, or representing Tom even though he knew he would not win.  Sorry I couldn't be more of a help.

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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