Atticus's Life Lessons in To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Throughout To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, Atticus teaches his children various lessons about stepping up and being the better person. Atticus Finch is the ideal person to teach these lessons, because he is without a doubt an icon of prestige, per se. He's nonjudgmental, respectful, loyal, honest, unbiased and a believer in pacifism. Atticus believes that it his duty to enlighten his children to the things that go on in Maycomb County. Martin Luther King Jr. said "The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.

” One of the lessons Atticus teaches his children is that a man does the job no one else wants to do even if it's unpopular in the eyes of majority. Atticus is a perfect example because he does what has to be done, what the others are afraid to do, he defends an African-American in court, against a “white person”.

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This is at the core of Martin Luther King's words; it is both controversial and challenging. By defending Tom Robinson in court, Atticus shows his children how important it is to be fair, and defend innocence, weather the person is black or white. Another example of Atticus doing something that nobody else wanted to do, but was totally necessary was to go above and beyond in the trial and prove that not only was tom innocent but that it was actually Bob Ewell who beat up Mayella.

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Atticus says to uncle jack "I'd hoped to get through life without a case of this kind” (Lee, 88), What he means is that he has no choice, if he didn't take this case he would be just as bad as all the other people in Maycomb county, he would catch “Maycomb's usual disease" or at least be a part of it. Atticus also says "Toms Robinson's case is something that goes to the essence of a man's conscienceScout, I couldn't go to church and worship God if I didn't try to help that man.”(Lee, 104)

He's given an ultimatum; do it or ruin his moral standing, and of course he defends Tom as well as he can but in the end he loses because Tom is Black and Bob is white. Atticus could easily not defend Tom, but that would be immoral and dishonest, the opposite of what Atticus stands for. Another lesson Atticus teaches Jem and Scout is moral courage. Atticus posses' moral courage as well as physical, like when he faced the lynch mob that wanted to kill the prisoner. Atticus sticks to what he believes is right, and never doubts his convictions. When Amicus defends tom, him and his family are assaulted, but Atticus takes it with his head held high. Atticus takes on a fight that he knows he'll lose, but he does it anyway, because it's right. Atticus even says "Simply because we were licked a hundred years before we started is no reason for us not to try to win."(Lee, 76)

Atticus teaches Jem about moral courage when he says “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. You rarely win, but sometimes you do.”(Lee, 112) After this Jem knows what it's like to have courage, and he uses this knowledge throughout the book, like when he's trying to defend Jem against Bob Ewell, he knows he won't win the fight but he does it anyway to save Scout. What he didn't count on was Boo Radley saving him too. Atticus also teaches his children to live in quiet dignity and not to boast about their accomplishments.

Atticus is an example of this when he shoots Tim Johnson, the dog, not many people knew he was called one shot Finch, not even his children. He never boasted or bragged about how good he was at shooting. Another example of Atticus having quiet dignity is when he lost the case but proved Bob Ewell beat his daughter. Bob Ewell approached him later after the trial and their conversation went something like this “Too proud to fight, you nigger-lovin' bastard?” “No, too old,” Atticus replied before putting his hands in his pockets and walking away."(Lee, 217) Atticus chose not to fight and boast about "beating" him but to walk away with dignity. Atticus refused to sink to the level of a man like Bob Ewell therefore proving that he lives in dignity.

Atticus was successful in teaching his children quiet dignity, and this is proved when Jem say's Atticus is real old, but I wouldn't care if he couldn't do anything I wouldn't care if he couldn't do a blessed thing, Atticus is a gentleman, just like me!" (Lee, 99) Most people, if they saw Atticus, would say "That's the man I want to be.” He is very wise and is the definition of the "better person”. He doesn't stoop to the level of people like Bob Ewell; he has moral courage, and does what most other men would be afraid to do, because it's unpopular. With all of this wisdom he teaches his children what is wrong and what is right, and he does it successfully. By the end of the book his children are disguised to live in Maycomb among all the racists, and they gain sympathy for Boo Radley for what he's had to put up with.

Updated: May 03, 2023
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Atticus's Life Lessons in To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. (2022, Oct 27). Retrieved from

Atticus's Life Lessons in To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee essay
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