Essay, Pages 4 (823 words)
As Maya Angelou once said, “Courage is the most important of all the virtues because, without courage, you can’t practice any other virtue consistently. You can practice any virtue erratically but nothing consistently.” Courage is very similar to the idea of heroism since they both mean bravery and valor. Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird conveys the message of heroism to the reader through certain characters. Atticus Finch is one of many characters to be recognized as a true hero because of his notable actions and his convection of wisdom.
Our hero manifests courage and bravery in certain situations. One situation is when Atticus killed a mad dog, Tim Johnson in one shot. As suspensive as the situation gets, Lee reassures the reader by having Miss Maudie introduce the story of “Ol’ One-Shot Finch.” After shooting the dog, a shocked Jem approaches Atticus in disbelief of his sight: “‘Atticus?’ said Jem. ‘Yes?’ ‘Nothin’.’ …. ‘Atticus-‘ ‘What, son?’ ‘Nothing’…. ‘Didn’t you know your daddy’s-‘ ‘Hush Heck’ said Atticus, ‘ let’s go back to town” (Lee 128-129).
Prior to this conversation, Scout complains about Atticus being “feeble”(Lee 118). Jem also wished that Atticus would play football with him. After underestimating their father, they have not expected to see him kill the mad dog, thinking that it was incapable for him. The awkward conversation between Jem and Atticus proves that Jem looks up to his father and looks out for him when trouble is near. This conversation also teaches the reader about humility especially when Atticus hides his talent and also tells Heck Tate to not talk about it.
The main reason he hides the fact that he is a skilled shooter is that he believes it is something not to be proud of. Modesty is a very virtuous quality to have as a person. Atticus was also willing to protect his neighborhood. The narrator explicitly describes how Atticus kills Tim Johnson: “The rifle cracked. Tim Johnson leaped, flopped over and crumpled on the sidewalk in a brown and white heap”(Lee 80). In this situation, Tim Johnson represents “racism” since he was a rabid dog trying to spread the disease while Atticus tries to get rid of the “racism” Tim Johnson carries around. He is a hero for protecting the people mainly his children from catching a racist cold.
A hero must be selfless and extremely moral. Atticus is known to be highly moral because he treats everybody equally even when the people around him exhibit prejudice. Although everybody discriminates the African Americans, inside the courtroom Atticus believes everybody should be treated the same since the justice system treats everybody equally. The Finch family’s loyal maid Calpurnia is treated with respect by Atticus and his children, regardless of her race and occupation. When Scout asks her father if he is an “n***** lover” Atticus responds, “‘I do my best to love everybody'”(Lee 90). Somehow Atticus is easily able to not listen to that “single story” and immune to “Maycomb’s usual disease.” Atticus’s decision of selflessly defending an innocent black man named Tom Robinson was a decision that was later rewarded when everybody gave him food and other treats the day after the case. When Atticus answers Jem’s question regarding the verdict against Tom Robinson, he teaches his son a lesson that can be valuable for Jem throughout his life: “As you grow older, you’ll see white men cheat black men every day of your life, but let me tell you something and don’t you forget it whenever a white man does that to a black man, no matter who he is, how rich he is, or how fine a family he comes from, that white man is trash.” Atticus refers “trash” to Bob Ewell, the man who abused his daughter and placed Tom Robinson as the scapegoat. He also calls Ewell a “low-grade white man who’ll take advantage of a negro’s ignorance”(Lee 188). Atticus selflessly defending a black man is more than enough to prove that he is a heroic figure.
Atticus is mainly associated to the case of Tom Robinson, where he depicts his courageous self. He is heroic in many aspects of this case. One way is when Atticus explains to Scout why it is necessary for him to defend Tom: “‘This case, Tom Robinson’s case, is something that goes to the essence of a man’s conscience-Scout, I couldn’t go to church and worship God if I didn’t try to help that man'”(Lee 108). Atticus wants to get this case out of his mind so he will not fail his beliefs. The connection between Atticus and a hero is that they both have moral values. A hero believes in helping anybody, no matter who he or she is. Likewise Atticus wants to help Tom with the case because of Tom’s vulnerability as a black man. Also Atticus is willing to try his best to make the case fair, although knowing that the jury will have biased opinions.