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The Courage in the Novel, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

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The book To Kill a Mockingbird contains many interesting subjects and topics, but the one I want to focus on in my first essay… was courage. One of the first situations in which the subject of bravery comes to the forefront is in Chapter 10. We learn that, unlike other fathers in Maycomb, Jem and Scout didn’t see much interesting in their father Atticus. So, when he shoots a rabid dog named Tim Johnson, it comes as a surprise to them. The children seem more amazed than anything, but Jem realizes that if he were proud of his sharp-shooting talents, he would have told his children. “Jem said, “I reckon if he’d wanted us to know it, he’da told us. If he was proud of it, he’da told us.” In the following chapter, some misadventures involving the horrible Ms. Dubose Ocur. After hearing Ms. Dubose badmouth Atticus so much, Jem went on a wild, flailing rampage.

“He did not begin to calm down until he had cut the tops off every camelia bush Mrs. Dubose owned, until the ground was littered with green buds and leaves.” More misadventures ensue. As punishment, Jem is sent to Ms. Dubose’s house everyy day after school and Saturdays for a month to read to her. Scout comes with Jem each time. The reading sessions are a grueling chore. They noticed that towards the end of many reading session, Ms. Dubose goes through an odd spell.One day a while later, when they were talking to Atticus, they found out what those spells were. “Mrs. Dubose was a morphine addict.. She took it as a painkiller for years…She’d have spent the rest of her life on it and died without so much agony, but she was too contrary-” Sr Atticus said, “Just before your escapade she called me to make her will. Dr. Reynolds told her she had only a few months left. Her business affairs were in perfect order but she said, “There’s still one thing left ot of order” “what was that?” Jem was perplexed. She said she was going to leave this world beholden to nothing and nobody. Jem, when you’re sickk as she was, it’s all right to take anything to make it easier, but it wasn’t all right jor her. She said she meant to break herself of it before she died, and that’s what she did.” Jem said, “You mean that’s what her fits were?” “Yes, that’s what they were…

“Did she die free?” “As the mountain air,” said Atticus. ” She had Jessie fix you this box-” Atticus reached down and picked up the candy box. He handed it to Jem.. “YOu know, she was a great lady. “A lady?” Jem raised his head. His face was scarlet. “Alfter all those things she said about you, a lady?” She was. She had her own views about things, a lot different from mine, maybe.. son, I told you that if you hadnt ost your head l’d have made you go read to her. I wanted you to see something about her – 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. Mrs. Dubose won, all ninety-eight pounds of her. According to her views, she died beholden to nothing and nobody. She was the bravest person I ever knew.” In his speech, Atticus tells his children how even the most horrible old lady can have courage. Ms. Dubose faced a losing battle, and she won. Anyone can have courage, not only in battle but when facing a personal battle. In Chapter 21, this message about courage comes to a climax. The citizens of Maycomb wait for the ultimate judgement of the guilt or innocence of Tom Robinson, the man Atticus defends in court. The court case puts one black man against a prejudiced white jury, and it looks like a battle they can’t win…

“What happened after that had a adreamiike quality: in a dream I saw the Jury return, moving ike underwater Swimmers, and Judge Taylor’s voice came from jar away and was tiny. I saw something only a lawyer’s child could be expected to see, could be expected to watch for, and it was like watching Atticus walk into the street, raise a rifle to his shoulder and pull the trigger, but watching all the time knowing the gun was empty. A jury never looks at a defendant it has convicted, and when this jury came in, not one of them looked at Tom Robinson From the time he had been assigned the case to that postponed day in court, Tom and Aticus both showed courage. They both must have known that their chances of winning the case were little to none, but they still hoped and did everything they could to prove Tom’s innocence. Atticus was probably given this case because, if anyone stood any chance of winning it, it was Atticus, and he saw the case through no matter what. It’s events like these in To Kill a Mockingbird that Sheriff Heck Tate said in To Kill a Mockingbird that he would write, in his final report on the death of Bob Ewell, that Mr. Ewell fell on his own knife.

At first a reader might think hey, maybe Bob just wasn’t very careful, Tate’s got evidence, maybe he’s right. His insistence on not defending Jem would seem to point to that, but a paragraph soon afterward reveals Heck’s true intentions: T never heard tell that its against the law for a citizen to do his utmost to prevent a crime from being commited, which is exactly what he did, but maybe you’ll say it’s my duty to tell the town all about it and not hush it up. Know what d happen then? All the ladies in Maycomb includin’ my wife’d be knocking on his door bring angel food cakes. To my way of thinkin’, Mr: Finch, taking the one man who’s done you and this town a great service an’ draggin’ him with his shy ways into the limelight – to me, that’s a sin. lr’sa sin and T’m not about to have it on my head. If it was any other man, it’d be different. But not this man, Mr. Finch.” Shy ways? His door? Dragging him into the limelight? By golly by gum, he’s talking about Arthur Radley!

What really happened? Arthur “Boo” Radley stabbed Mr. Ewell and saved the childrens’ lives. Miss Maudie reacts to the court case in a somewhat sad manner. She comforts Jemn when he, Scout and Dill come to her home after the failed court case. “Suddenly she spoke: “Don’t fret, Jem. Things are never as bad as they seem.”” And right after this quote, Miss Maudie says this: T simply want to tell you that there are some men in this world who were born to do our unpleasant jobs for us. Your father’s one of them.” On, satd Jem. “Well. “Don’t you oh well me, sir,” Miss Maudie replied, recognizing Jem’s fatalistic noises, “you are not old enough to appreciate what I said.” Miss Maudie means that Atticus’s job as a lawyer could get rather unpleasant. In the case with Tom Robinson, failing due to a jury’s extreme prejudice and overall rudeness could be considered…unpleasant. What may be surprising about the quote is that Miss Maudie never really talked about Atticus that way previously. Miss Gates and her teaching the class about the overall badness of Hitler and the Nazi Party is ironic because the Nazi party can be compared to Maycomb County itself. Miss Gates teaches Scout’s class about how different America and Germany are although, after the court case, they may not be so different after all. “Then Miss Gates said, “That’s the difference between America and Germany. we are a democracy and Germany is a dictatorship. Dictator-ship,” she said. “Over here we don’t believe in persecuting anybody. Persecution comes from people who are prejudiced. Prejudice,” she enunciated carefully.

“There are no better people in the world than the Jews, and why Hitler doesn’t think so is a mystery to me. Scout reacts with some confusion. She consults Atticus and then Jem about it. In one paragraph she gets to the heart of the matter. “”What’s eatin’ you?” “Well, coming out of the courthouse that night Miss Gates was she was goin’ down the steps in front of us, you musta not seen her – she was talking with Miss Stephanie Crawford. T heard her say it’s time somebody taught ’em a lesson, they were gettin’ way above themselves, an’ the next thing they think they can do is marry uS. Jem, how can you hate FHitler so bad an” then turn around and be ugly about folks right at home-” When a bad situation is far away and you hear news about it, you’re more likely to feel anger and sadness. But when the situation is closer to home, you may find your morals skewed.

The mockingbird in this story is used for much symbolism. As they said in Chapter 10.. “Shoot all the bluejays if you can hit ’em, but remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.” That was the only time I ever heard Atticus say it was a sin to do something, and I asked Miss Maudie about it. “Your father’s right,” she said. “Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. They don’t eat up people’s gardens, don’t nest in corncribs, they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird. ” In the context of the story, you could call many characters mockingbirds, but I would call Tom Robinson the mockingbird. As we learn in the book’s big court case, all Tom was trying to do was help the Ewell family some; even when Mayella spoke to him so badlly, he kept on working just because he felt badly for them. Even with all signs pointing at Bob Ewell being the criminal in that case, Tom was the man arrested. Imprisoned for an unfair crime…it’s like killing a mockingbird: A SIN.

This essay was written by a fellow student. You may use it as a guide or sample for writing your own paper, but remember to cite it correctly. Don’t submit it as your own as it will be considered plagiarism.

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The Courage in the Novel, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. (2023, Apr 01). Retrieved from

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