What are some examples of courage in the book To Kill a Mockingbird?

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schulzie | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

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Courage takes many forms in this novel. Some examples are:

1. Defending a black man in the South was a losing proposition.  Atticus wasn't going to win, and he knew it. When Scout asks him why he was defending Tom Robinson, Atticus tells her,

"For a number of reasons.... The main one is, if I didn't I couldn't hold up my head in town.  I couldn't represent this county in the legislature. I couldn't even tell you or Jem not to do something again." (pg 75)

He tells Scout not to fight over the issue; that many things will be said, and she must not allow it to pull her into a fight..

"This time we aren't fighting the Yankees, we're fighting our friends.  But remember this, no matter how bitter things get, they're still our friends and this is still our home." (pg 76)

2. When the mad dog is coming down the street, everyone else locks their doors and hides inside.  Atticus and the sheriff go outside and the sheriff asks Atticus to shoot him.  Atticus at first refuses but the sheriff says,

"For God's sake, Mr. Finch, look where he is!  Miss and he'll go straight into the Radley house." (pg 96)

Atticus takes one shot and kills the dog.  However, as he leaves, he tells Jem and Scout,

"Don't you go near that dog, you understand?  Don't go near him, he's just as dangerous dead as alive." (pg 97)

3. From Scout's point of view, the bravest thing her father ever did was talk to Mrs. Dubose.  Mrs. Dubose would always have something nasty to say to the children as they passed by her house.  Scout says,

"...He would tell her the courthouse news and would say he hoped with all his heart she'd have a good day tomorrow...It was times like these when I thought my father, who hated guns and had never been to any wars, was the bravest man who ever lived." (pg 100)

4. However there was a reason that Atticus was so kind to Mrs. Dubose.  When Mrs. Dubose finally irritates Jem so much he can't stand it, he takes Scout's baton and beats her camillia bushes until all the flowers were gone.  His punishment for that was to clean up the mess, tend to her flowers, and read to her every afternoon.  When Mrs. Dubose dies, Atticus explains why he made Jem do that. He first explains what was wrong with Mrs. Dubose.

"Mrs.Dubose was a morphine addict..... She took it as a pain killer for years. The doctor put her on it. She'd have spent the rest of her life on it and died without so much agony, but she was too contrary" (pg 110)

She decided that she didn't want to die addicted to morphine. She went through withdrawal, and that is what made her so mean. Atticus tells the children,

"I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand.  It's when you know you're licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through, no matter what.......she died beholden to nothing and nobody. She was the bravest person I ever knew." (pg 112)

 Atticus is doing the same thing by defending Tom Robinson in this trial.  He knows he is licked before he begins, but he does it anyway.

5. Atticus is at the jailhouse protecting Tom Robinson.  A mob arrives, and Atticus, thinking he was alone, faces them.  His hands are shaking, but he doesn't back down. The children arrive and unknowingly save the day, but initially Atticus was going to face them alone.(pg 151)

6. Jem protects Scout when they get attacked by Mr. Ewell. He didn't know who was attacking them, but he knew he had to defend Scout.

 

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