Which characters have the courage to break society's code of ethics for this setting? Explain their courageous acts in To Kill a Mockingbird.

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Though many of the characters in the novel show a special type of courage by their actions, some of them border on foolishness. Atticus accepts Judge Taylor's demand that he defend Tom Robinson, even though Atticus knows it may bring problems for his family and that Tom will still be found guilty.

"... I'd hoped to get through life without a case of this kind."  (Chapter 9)

Calpurnia takes Jem and Scout to her church, a bold move considering that Maycomb's code of segregation forbids such social mixing of the races. Cal does this mostly out of convenience, but she is also looking forward to showing off her employer's children. One of the wealthiest men in town, Dolphus Raymond prefers living with his African American mistress, and he becomes one of the most ostracized men in town because of it. Mrs. Dubose shows "real courage" when she decides to die unaddicted to the morphine that deadens her pain, but it becomes a difficult and even more painful time for her. Tom Robinson's kindheartedness eventually leads to his death when he decides to help Mayella Ewell because "I felt right sorry for her." Sheriff Tate risks his job at the end of the story when he decides to falsify his report, calling Bob Ewell's death self-inflicted so the real killer, Boo Radley, won't have to face the possibility of standing trial.

"... taking the one man who's done you and this town a great service an' draggin' him with his shy ways into the limelight--to me, that's a sin."  (Chapter 30)

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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