The novel To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is set in the deep south during the 1930s. The story is told through the eyes of Scout, a young girl who learns about courage through the events that unfold in her small town of Maycomb, Alabama.
One of the most memorable scenes in To Kill a Mockingbird is when Atticus Finch, Scout’s father, decides to defend a black man accused of rape. Even though he knows that he will be up against a lot of prejudice, Atticus Finch stands up for what he believes is right. This takes a lot of courage, and it is something that Scout learns from her father.
In another scene, Scout’s friend Jem is attacked by a man known as Boo Radley. Jem is badly hurt, but he does not tell anyone what happened out of fear that Boo Radley will be sent to jail. Again, this takes a great deal of courage, and Jem’s example helps Scout to understand the importance of standing up for what is right, even when it is difficult.
The theme of courage is one that is prominently explored in To Kill a Mockingbird. Through the characters of Atticus Finch and Jem, Harper Lee shows us that sometimes doing what is right requires bravery and strength.
The childhood experiences that inspired To Kill a Mockingbird were largely unknown to the general public. The theme of moral fortitude and how it is used in conflict permeates many aspects of life. Harper Lee demonstrated how conflict and character mirrored this notion of moral bravery through numerous problems that emerged, as well as numerous characters’ actions in To Kill a Mockingbird.
Moral courage, otherwise known as bravery, is defined by Webster’s Dictionary as “the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face danger, difficulty, or pain without fear.” To Kill a Mockingbird is rife with examples of moral courage. Atticus Finch, the novel’s protagonist, embodies moral courage throughout the novel. Even though he knows that he will be ridiculed and hated for defending Tom Robinson, a black man accused of rape, he does it anyway because he knows it is the right thing to do. Atticus also teaches his children, Scout and Jem, to stand up for what they believe in and to never back down from a fight–even if they know they are going to lose.
“I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what” (Chapter 11).
This quote from Atticus perfectly sums up the theme of moral courage in To Kill a Mockingbird. No matter what the odds, or how difficult the situation, those who possess moral courage will never give up or back down. They stand up for what they believe in, even if it means they will be ridiculed or persecuted. This theme is demonstrated time and time again throughout To Kill a Mockingbird, proving that Harper Lee was a master at depicting human nature and the importance of moral courage.
The conflict between Tom Robinson and Mayella Ewell is the first literary element because it demonstrates how moral courage is reflected. Atticus takes on the case of Tom Robinson raping Mayella Ewell in Maycomb. Atticus’ peers are enraged by his decision to defend an African American. Atticus knows he’s doing the right thing and that he’ll have to continue defending Tom in this court case. “[…] every lawyer gets at least one case in his or her lifetime that affects them personally” (Harper 77).
This case is affecting him because it is something he does not agree with. The second literary element is symbolism which also shows courage. The To Kill A Mockingbird is a mockingbird that Atticus shot. Jem and Scout were very mad at Atticus for shooting the bird. They thought it was mean to kill such a beautiful creature. Later on in the novel, they find out that Atticus only shot the bird because it was destroying the flowers in Miss Maudie’s garden. This shows that even though Atticus may do something that Jem and Scout might not understand, there is always a reason behind his actions.
The following quotation emphasizes how moral fortitude affected Atticus because he attempted to assist Tom, despite the fact that everyone in Maycomb was against him for what he was doing and why he was wrong for betraying his people for an African American. Meanwhile, while Scout, Jem, and Dill go after Boo Radley to satisfy their curiosity about him, they discover that they were mistaken.
Instead of a scary man, they find a kind and caring one. Boo ends up saving Jem’s life when Bob Ewell tries to kill him. In this section, the children learn that it is more important to be kind than to be right.
One example of courage in To Kill A Mockingbird is when Atticus Finch defends Tom Robinson, even though everyone in Maycomb is against him. Atticus knows that what he’s doing is right, even though it may cost him his life. Another example of courage is when Scout, Jem, and Dill go after Boo Radley. They’re curious about him and want to see what he looks like, even though everyone tells them he’s dangerous. In the end, they learn that Boo is a kind and caring man.
Meanwhile, Atticus is still adamant that Boo did not commit the crime, while Jem is convinced that he killed Bob. Tate explains that “as he leaned forward his left arm went down in front of him. See there? Stabbed himself through the soft stuff between his ribs with a knife. When I got here, the knife was sticking in the ground.” (Lee 269). Atticus is relieved and pleased to learn that Jem isn’t guilty of murder.
Boo Radley is one of the most important characters in To Kill A Mockingbird. Harper Lee uses him to show how courageous people can be even if they are afraid. Boo is extremely shy and does not want anyone to know he exists. He is terrified of the outside world and has not left his house in years. However, when Jem and Scout are in danger, Boo overcomes his fears and saves them. He puts himself at risk even though he knows he could be hurt or killed. Boo’s courage is what ultimately helps Jem and Scout escape from Bob Ewell.
Courage is one of the main themes in To Kill A Mockingbird. Harper Lee uses characters like Atticus, Jem, and Boo to show how important it is to be brave. Even when faced with danger, these characters stand up for what they believe in. They are willing to fight for what is right even though they might be scared. Their courage inspires others to be brave as well.