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With respect to the concept of honor, the character of Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird is very closely associated. Serving as a sterling example of integrity to his children, Atticus Finch acts always with the idea of doing what is right. As a paradigm for all that he does, and for what he desires his children to do, Atticus says something to Jem in Chapter 11,
"The one thing that doesn't abide by majority rule is a person's conscience."
Before the trial of Tom Robinson, Atticus talks to his brother Jack who inquires why Atticus did not try to avoid taking the case. Because he feels that this case is"something that goes to the essence of a man's conscience," (11) Atticus replies honorably,
"...do you think I could face my children otherwise? You know what's going to happen as well as I do, jack, and I hope and pray I can get Jem and Scout through it without bietterness, and most of all, without catching Maycomb's usual disease." (9)
Always Atticus behaves honorably towards all his neighbors. When Mrs. Dubose hurls insults about him to his children and Jem retaliates by cutting the blooms from her ---, Atticus, nevertheless, speaks politely to her whenever he sees her. Furthermore, he requires Jem to make retribution for his vindictive act by reading to Mrs. Dubose. He tells Jem that while Mirs. Dubose has been entitled to her opinion, he would rather that she just insult him directly instead of through his children. However, he explains, she is an old, ailing woman. Atticus adds,
"but before I can live with other folks I've got to live with myself." (11)
After Mrs. Dubose takes herself off the morphine that she has used to reduce her pain, Atticus tells Jem and Scout,
"I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is not 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. You rarely win, but sometimes you do."
Even after Bob Ewell spits in his face, Atticus does not become petty, but tells Jem, with his usual integrity,
"...see if you can stand in Bob Ewell's shoes a minute....The man had to have some kind of comeback...You understand?"
Atticus has as his motto, "Best way to clear the air is to have it all out in the open." (30)
Miss Maudie, who is the voice of common sense throughout the novel, recognizes the integrity and honor of Atticus Finch as she says to his children,
"If your father's anything, he's civilized in his heart," (10)
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