In Harper Lee’s novel To Kill a Mockingbird, he highlights several examples of bravery and heroism in the small Alabama town that is mocked for its social tensions and suffering. Throughout the two years that they spent in Alabama, the novel focuses on Finch’s family. Scout, Jem, Atticus, and Tom Robinson are also examples of bravery. Scout is the novel’s narrator, and her narrative is clouded with brave memories that also contribute to her father Atticus’ protection from the fight he encountered from the home. In the entire book, Lee aims at portraying courage in the racial climate of the South in the 1930s and where injustices substantially prevailed (Johnson 45). In the novel plot development, Scout, Jem, and Atticus display acts of valor that demonstrate courage and notable acts of bravery. Notably, Lee illustrates that acting courageously can result into sustained, improved and newly development of personal integrity. According to the book, real courage involves doing the right thing whether one wins or fails in what he stands for integrity.
Analysis of Courage in the book To Kill A Mockingbird
Scout does respond to her acts of courage through finding her own righteous grounds of moral positions. Although she was a young girl, Scout did step between a potentially violent conflict which was among the male residents of Maycomb and Atticus her father. Certainly, Scout implies the act of courage when she approached the conflict and decided to intervene. Even though she appeared frightened at first, and mistook her courage for foolishness, she later on believed that acting courageously implies acting without fear (Johnson 15). Courage involves facing the right thing no matter the possible consequences. Scout manages to resolve the conflict between the Maycomb residents and Atticus, her father by renewing their sense of integrity. Scouts reminds Mr. Cunningham of his own son and the kindness he received from Atticus and his family and thus helping Atticus from the conflict. Notably, she showed an act of courage by telling Mr. Cunningham, and the other residents that whatever they were doing was an irrational behavior that portrays being inhumane. Through her words, she managed to correctly sort out her beliefs of fairness and equality and standing for the right moral behavior.
Tom Robinson is a character who also shows real courage. He is a black American, and he is faced with racial prejudice in Maycomb town. He is wrongly accused of raping a white girl. Tom is faced with the problem of being falsely charged because he is black (Johnson 21). Atticus even says that “In our courts, when it’s a white man’s word against a black man’s, the white man always wins” (Lee 295). During Tom’s trial, he could have chosen to lie about helping Mayella in order to keep himself from getting into more problems. Nevertheless, he presents an act of courage through revealing the actual reason behind his actions of helping Mayella. He says that “I felt sorry for her, she seemed to try more’n the rest of ‘em” (Lee 264). The laws of Jim Crow were very active in Maycomb and many peopled field his answer in being a big mistake. “Below us, nobody liked Tom Robinson’s answer” Lee (264). This shows an act of courage and that being a black person one face more racial discrimination.
In the face of the tremendous social pressure, Scout understands that doing the right thing is the most important aspect that calls for courage. In observing her father’s mistreatment, Scout makes a discovery that moral courage is both more difficult and complicated in enacting in comparison to physical courage. Indeed, the novel reveals heroism in acting with moral courage when one wants to adhere to social morals. Sometimes it is outrageously and practically unthinkable to live in the south owing to the white man view of the minority and the racial prejudices that highly prevail causing discrimination (Johnson 18). Atticus explains to Scout that “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view—until you climb into his skin and walk around in it” (Lee 36). According to Atticus, the act of climbing into somebody’s skin and walking around implies true courage as few people will dare to do the dreadful act.
Atticus, Boo Radley, and Mrs. Dubose are the other characters that also display great courage in the novel. Notably, Atticus is willing to defend a black man. The novel arose mixture of sadness and suspense in the Alabama in the 1930s which were a period that racial prejudices characterized the society. It called for bravery and real courage to do the aspects that many individuals thought were difficult in the racially driven community. Atticus courageously went against the town, and courageously choose to defend Tom Robinson who was a black man from the acts of racism in the court of justice. Due to this, Atticus did receive negative remarks and ridiculed from the peopled of the town. Despite the racist comments and hate speech that he encountered for his move, he did not give up in defending Tom Robinson. Atticus states that “If I didn’t I couldn’t hold my head up in town, I couldn’t represent this country in the legislature, I couldn’t even tell you or Jem not to do something”(Lee 75). Undoubtedly, Atticus emerges out to be one of the most courageous people in the novel who chooses to stand up for the truth.
Mrs. Dubose tried to break her addiction to morphine while Radley courageously saved Jem and Scout from the Bob Ewell. Another exceptional courage is presented in Mrs. Dubose when she tries to break her addiction. Even when she understood that chance of stopping the addiction were extremely slim, she did not stop in trying because she knew it was the right thing to do (Johnson 13). This makes Atticus to even describe her as the bravest individual she ever encountered in life. Atticus explains her courage when he says to her that “It’s when you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway, and you see it through no matter what”(112). Besides, Boo single handily did save Jem and Scout from Bob Ewell. Boo risked his chance of being seen by the public after the many years of hiding behind the dark walls.
Skin color racism caused Tom Robinson’s trial to serves as a good example of how racism was a pivotal challenge in addressing matters of social justice. Through Atticus’s courage, he managed to defend Tom. This aspect indicates how the blacks languished in the sea of injustice as a result of their skin color. Robinson is wrongfully accused of having committed rape. He is accused of raping Mayella Ewell, a young white woman and undoubtedly, his conviction is seen to happen on the grounds of racial prejudices thus portraying courage. The reader is able to tell that the conviction of Robinson is purely done based on the skin color but not on the grounds of arriving at justice. Besides, in the entire book, the Scout, and Jem explore the differences that exist between the white people and the black people. Scout and her brother visited Calpurnia’s church and they request if they could also visit. Even though Calpurnia agrees to this, their arrangement of visiting again is taken into consideration as Aunt Alexandra denies basing on the racial factor. Despite Scout and Jem having a belief in racial inequality, they find it hard to live and cope in the white society as they are minorities.
Racial inequalities arising from social classes indicate racism from the novel and the need for courage. Jem and Scout spend their time in trying to understand the definition of social strata and why it is a problem that promotes inequalities through courage. Scout, for example, clashes with Miss Caroline, her teacher on the first day of reporting at school due to social stratification. Miss Caroline tells Scout that “Your father does not know how to teach. You can have a seat now” (Lee 17). Scout’s teacher underrated her because he came from a low social class. At lunchtime, Scout explains to Miss Caroline that Walter Cunningham, her student hails from a poor family. Additionally, Robinson hails from the lower social class, under which he is unable to find a better lawyer who could help him with the case. Consequently, he is wrongly convicted despite being innocent because the Ewells’ family hold a higher social status that him because they are whites.
Through the acts of courage that are depicted in throughout Lee’s novel, a grate inspiration was added to the plot of the story. The courage portrayed a sense of humanity and loyalty in the characters along with a valiant display of courage and bravery. Courage played a fundamental role in the novels overall moral behavior. Real courage involves standing up for what is right in society. Indeed, Lee vibrantly and brilliantly demonstrates to the reader the racial tensions that the blacks faced in the hands of the whites called for having courage. He richly outlines how racism was a devastating ailment that worked to undermine the blacks. The novels continue to stand out as a test of how racism presents unjust world. Lee raised racial questions demonstrating how the minorities were brutally treated and exploited arousing an emotional attitude towards the suffering.
Johnson, Claudia Durst. Understanding To Kill A Mockingbird. 1st ed., Westport, Conn., Greenwood Press, 1994.
Lee, Harper. To Kill a Mocking Bird. New York: Harper Perennial Modern Classics, 2006.