To Kill a Mockingbird Portrays Courage as Something New

Karis Moore, Staff Writer

Growing up our society teaches children that those who are brave are willing to fight, and always put on a brave face. In To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee portrays courage as knowing that you are going to lose even before you begin, but standing up for what is right anyways. She shows courage as something new. She shows this through the character’s kindness and through the characters themselves. Tom Robinson goes into court and gallantly standing up for himself even though the probability of going to jail and being killed was so high, Atticus goes to court and defends Tom Robinson even though he knew that the entire town (including his own family) would judge him harshly for it, and even Scout who stands up for her father and will not fight other kids despite what awful things they say about him.

Tom Robinson is a black man going to trial in the 1960’s. There is so much room for Tom to give in and plead guilty as he is treated very differently because of the color of his skin, but he holds his ground and stays courageous all of the way through. His last push of courage in the book is in the trial, and he shows it through the way he presents himself to the court. He shows kindness, respect, and tells nothing but the truth. He really stood up for what was right, even though the chances of him being ruled guilty were high. Harper Lee shows that no matter what you look like, and no matter how horribly you are treated, the truest courage is shown in the way that you present yourself and are kind despite everything else.

The next person who presented the element of courage in To Kill a Mockingbird was Atticus. Not only does he have courage during the trial, but all throughout the book. His daughter is curious as to why Atticus is defending Tom Robinson so 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 anyways and see it through no matter what.” He shows his kids what true courage looks like in standing up for a person, and that without doing the right thing he would have no right in doing anything. Harper Lee showed us that we can act in ways of courage by showing others kindness and doing the right thing, even if everyone around you is telling you not to do so. It shows that despite living in a society that can be filled with hate, you can still show kindness and compassion towards others which takes much more courage than giving into the hate.

Lastly, the person who was least expected to show so much courage at such a young age, was Scout. At the beginning of the book she treats her classmates violently after hearing them say anything remotely bad about herself or her family. Throughout the book, she changes and grows into this aspect of courage. One scene that outlines this is when Cecil Jacobs is saying awful things about Atticus after hearing that he is going to defend Tom Robinson. Scout goes to beat him up, but something stops her. Even after this Cecil continues to shout nasty things, but Scout disregards them and continues on her way as courageously as ever. Scout also confirms this idea of courage when she walks Boo Radley home at the end of the book. She throws away all of the unrealistic thoughts she has been told about him her entire life, and walks him to his front porch. She walks past several of her neighbors’ houses with her arm linked in his, not caring if anyone sees her with him. As a young girl only in the early stages of elementary school, she symbolizes a huge character of courage in To Kill a Mockingbird. Scout shows us that you can have true courage no matter your age, and you can have more courage as a young child than all of the adults around you. Kindness towards others and doing what right despite what everyone else is telling you shows the real strength that you have, and we should teach all young kids to act like this.

Tom Robinson, Atticus, and Scout are huge characters of courageous importance in To Kill a Mockingbird. They convey it in many different ways, but they all have true hearts and stand up for what is right. True courage is not just being able to stand up and fight like we have all been told it is, but a person with a true heart and good intent. Harper Lee portrays this in her book and we should all learn to act in ways of courage as the characters in her book do.