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To Kill a Mockingbird Essay

“The courage of life is often a less dramatic spectacle than the courage of a final moment, but it is no less a magnificent mixture of triumph and tragedy. A man does what he must-in spite of personal consequences, in spite of obstacles and dangers and pressures-and that is the basis of all morality” (John F. Kennedy). Courage is demonstrated in the Pulitzer Prize winning novel, To Kill a Mockingbird. In this story, Atticus Finch finds inner strength to defend an innocent black man of a horrible crime against a white girl in a small Alabama town filled with racism and prejudice.

In the realistic fiction novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, written by Harper Lee, the story shows that people express courage in many different ways, through Mrs. Dubose and Miss Maudie’s battle to handle personal misfortune, Jem and Scout’s guts to handle prejudices with some people of Maycomb, and Atticus’s fearlessness to face danger without violence. Some forms of courage are shown when Mrs. Dubose fights to win over her drug addiction and when Miss Maudie’s house burns down.

After Mrs. Dubose dies, Atticus tells Jem: “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 you see it through no matter what” (Lee 116). Mrs. Dubose takes on the challenge to overcome her drug addiction even though it will be very painful and she will soon die. She dies a brave old lady knowing she accomplishes the tough goal to be free of morphine addiction. It takes incredible courage to overcome a lifelong addiction.

Great strength and will power is needed to overcome something that someone is battling over for years. In addition, after her house burns down Miss Maudie says to Jem: “Always wanted a smaller house, Jem Finch. Gives me more yard. Just think, I’ll have more room for my azaleas now! ” (Lee 77). After a horrible fire, some people might be very mad and pity themselves. One must admire Miss Maudie for her fantastic attitude, humor, and bravery during a very tragic time. Clearly it takes courage to win over an addiction and to start over after a great loss.

More courage is revealed when Jem and Scout deals with the prejudices of some of the townspeople of Maycomb. During the confrontation in front of the courthouse jail, Jem takes a stand in front of the furious mob and Atticus. The narrator explains: “Jem shook his head. As Atticus fists went to his hips, so did Jem’s and as they faced each other I could see little resemblance between them” (Lee 154). Jem is demonstrating courage by standing up and disobeying his father in a dangerous situation. Jem shows bravery even though his father cannot hide his own fears.

His courage shows he is growing up and becoming a man. Furthermore, when Cecil Jacobs shouts her dad is a disgrace; Scout remembers what Atticus had told her. Scout thinks: “It was the first time I ever walked away from a fight” (Lee 81). It is hard to hear bad things about your family but the most courageous thing to do is use your brain and walk away. There are a lot of ignorant people in this world and one shouldn’t take everything personally. Obviously, it takes courage to stand up to a mob of enraged men and a different kind of courage not to fight at all.

Courage comes from Atticus’s boldness to face danger without aggression. An example is when Atticus is sitting in a chair in front of the jail. The narrator describes: “In ones and twos, men got out of the cars. Atticus remained where he was” (Lee 153). Atticus goes to jail to protect Tom Robinson even though he knows an angry lynch mob might show up and he would be in mortal danger. His moral conscience and aim for justice is stronger than the danger from the crowd of men. It takes courage to stand up for what is morally right even though there is possibility of danger.

Moreover, after Bob Ewell accosts Atticus, Miss Stephanie runs over to Jem and Scout and says: “Atticus didn’t bat an eye, just took out his handkerchief and wiped his face and stood there and let Mr. Ewell call him names wild horses could not bring her to repeat” (Lee 220). One of the highest forms of bravery is not to fight. Violence just brings more violence. It takes bravery just to stand tall and let things go. Without a doubt, it takes more courage to restrain oneself than fight.

In conclusion, bravery is revealed in many forms throughout Harper Lee’s incredible award winning novel. It takes inner strength and mental courage to deal with personal addictions, loss, and self control as shown by Mrs. Dubose, Miss Maudie, Scout, Jem and Atticus. The greatest courage is to face danger by using ones head rather than physical violence. Some believe a hero is strong and tough but sometimes the most courageous person is the one who stands up for the innocent or injustices in the world knowing that they can’t possibly win but knowing it is the right thing to do.


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