Essay, Research Paper: To Kill A Mocking Bird Essay

Literature: To Kill a Mockingbird

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The theme of courage In 1960, Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird was
published. It is a story about growing up, human dignity and prejudgment. It is
a story about courage. Courage is mental or moral strength to venture, persevere
and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty. The theme of courage is embodied in
the characters of the novel. Courage is apparent in Atticus, Boo, and Jem.
Throughout the novel, the actions and feelings these characters exhibit shows
the true meaning of courage. Atticus Finch is a studious man with a sense of
morality that no other character in the book comes close to matching. Atticus’
behavior is governed by reason, morals and values- not cheap popularity. In the
novel, Atticus takes on the Tom Robinson case. When asked about the reason he
takes on this case, Atticus simply relies, “But do you think I could face my
children otherwise?” This is truly an act of admirable courage because he goes
against all odds of the prejudice town and takes on this case. Atticus is
harassed and tormented by the town for taking on the case. Yet he would rather
be taunted than to go against his morals. This is courageous of him because he
performs this courageous act and expects nothing in return. By taking on this
case, Atticus is harassed by Bob Ewell. When Bob spits in Atticus’ face, all
Atticus says is, “I wish Bob Ewell wouldn’t chew tobacco.” Instead of
sinking to Bob Ewells’ level, Attics takes the harassment and takes it with
his head held high. This ability to withstand harassment from Bob Ewell, and
Maycomb, is courage. Atticus shoots Tim Johnson- a “mad dog” with rabies.
Atticus places his own life in danger in order to protect the lives of others.
This event occurs at the perfect time in the story, just as the kids label
Atticus as being “feeble: he was nearly 50.” Shooting Tim Johnson proves to
the children Atticus is anything but feeble, he is indeed courageous. As the
reader can clearly see, Atticus epitomizes the definition of courage. Courage,
in Atticus’ opinion, is not being able to fight with fists but to fight with
knowledge and dignity. Atticus tells the children, “I wanted you to see what
real courage is instead of the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his
hand. Its when you known your licked before you begin but you begin anyway and
you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do.”
Atticus acknowledges this as courage. He knows he will never win the Tom
Robinson case, yet he continues to give it 101%. Without any doubt, Atticus is
the definition of courage. The man who is ostracized by Maycomb, the man who
lives in mysterious seclusion- all words describing Boo Radley. Though never
stated, it is implied that Boo is a recluse because of his mean-spirited
brother, Nathan. Yet Boo truly does want to be part of the “outside world,”
though he somewhat fears it. Boo proves to be courageous because he goes against
the wishes of Nathan and leaves various paraphernalia in the knothole of the big
oak tree. Rumors travel around town about Boo, such as “Boo drove the scissors
into his parent’s leg, pulled them out, wiped them clean and resumed his
activities.” Boo is able to ignore such rumors and carry on. This shows
courage, the courage to live life even when presented with many obstacles. When
Bob Ewell attempts to make an attack on the children, Boo rushes in to save
their lives. Boo doesn’t think twice about his life, only thinking about
others. Boo is a scrawny character, Bob Ewell is definitely bigger in size then
Boo. Yet Boo acts courageously and looks danger in the eye- all for others. Jem
Finch is the character that changes most during the course of the novel. He
starts off as a gawky boy and turns into a mature and courageous young adult.
Courage is evident in Jem. It takes courage for Jem to be the way he is in the
story- opinionated and strong-willed. All of the people around Jem constantly
plague him with the idea that black people are bad and sinful. Jem went against
those ideas and took on his own opinions. Jem’s refusal to give into
“Maycomb’s usual disease” shows true courage. Jem is brave enough to stand
up to Mrs. Dubose and go against society’s dominant views. Jem was forced to
rebuild and strengthen Mrs.Dubose’s camellias, just as he is forced to
strengthen his courage against the town. Mrs. Dubose leaves behind Jem a white
camellia. “Jem picked up the candy box and threw it in the fire. He picked up
the camellia and when [Scout] went off to bend [Scout] saw him fingering the
wide petals.” True, at first it may seem that the camellia is a symbol of
torture- reminding Jem of his days with Mrs.Dubose. A second glance allows the
reader to come to the realization that the camellia is actually a symbol of
courage. Jem puts his own life in danger to save Scout- like Boo Radley. As
explained in the above paragraph, this does show courage. As the reader can
clearly see, Boo, Jem and Atticus exhibit courage. Courage is being able to act
with dignity and bravery. It is not common to find courage in everyday common
people, yet in To Kill a Mockingbird; several characters in the book exhibit
courage. Though Atticus, Boo and Jem display courage, they are not the only
characters to do so. The characters in the novel face numerous conflicts, and
with time, conflicts become more serious. It is only through courage that these
conflicts can be won.
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