Why Atticus Finch is a hero?

Atticus Finch is a hero because his choice to defend Tom Robinson goes against the racist social norms of his town. His actions teach Scout and Jem the importance of doing the right thing, even when it's unpopular.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Atticus Finch is a hero because he chooses to do the right thing, even when it would be easier and safer for him not to.

When he is asked to defend Tom Robinson, a Black man accused of raping a white woman in the early 1930s, Atticus knows he was...

Unlock
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

Atticus Finch is a hero because he chooses to do the right thing, even when it would be easier and safer for him not to.

When he is asked to defend Tom Robinson, a Black man accused of raping a white woman in the early 1930s, Atticus knows he was chosen because he's the only lawyer in town who will provide any semblance of a fair trial to Tom. In accepting his appointment to this case, Atticus also realizes that he and his children will face the scorn of the town. Maycomb is a small, segregated, Southern town, and many of the white citizens in Maycomb believe Tom is automatically guilty because of his race. When Atticus endeavors not only to defend Tom, but to defend him to the best of his ability, he faces a significant backlash from those he once counted as friends and neighbors. Though Atticus perhaps doesn't fully realize it initially, he also puts his family's safety at risk by doing the right thing. When Mayella's father, Bob Ewell, threatens to get even with him, Atticus never considers that the spiteful old man might seek revenge through his children.

Despite the backlash from the town, by the end of the novel, it seems as though Atticus's efforts as Tom's lawyer have begun to shift the town's racial prejudices, even if just slightly. Though Tom is ultimately convicted, Atticus clearly proves his innocence in court, making it impossible for the town to ignore the racism that lead to the guilty verdict. In the end, a Cunningham—who would have otherwise automatically voted to convict—nearly refuses to declare Tom guilty. Even the town's racist newspaper owner, Mr. Underwood, prints an editorial acknowledging that Tom's death was an injustice. These shifts in perspective don't save Tom; however, they do show that change begins with ordinary individuals choosing to do the right thing.

A hero is someone who displays admirable qualities, such as bravery and integrity. Atticus is a hero because he allows his actions to be guided always by his sense of duty and his code of honor. His bravery, compassion, and moral fortitude ultimately set an example not just for his two children, but for the whole town as well.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on