What is Real Courage According to Atticus

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About this sample


Words: 675 |

Page: 1|

4 min read

Published: Jun 13, 2024

Words: 675|Page: 1|4 min read

Published: Jun 13, 2024

Courage is a theme that permeates Harper Lee's classic novel, To Kill a Mockingbird. Through the character of Atticus Finch, Lee explores the concept of true courage and its various manifestations. Atticus, a lawyer and father, serves as a moral compass for his children, Scout and Jem, as well as for the reader. In this essay, we will delve into Atticus's understanding of courage and how it shapes his actions and beliefs. By examining key moments in the text, we can gain a deeper understanding of Atticus's definition of courage and its significance in the novel.

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Atticus defines courage as the ability to stand up for what is right, even in the face of adversity. He believes that courage is not defined by physical strength or bravado, but rather by one's willingness to do what is morally just. This is evident in his defense of Tom Robinson, a black man accused of raping a white woman. Despite the racial prejudices and threats he faces, Atticus remains steadfast in his commitment to justice. He understands that taking on this case will invite criticism and hostility, yet he persists, knowing that it is the right thing to do. Atticus's actions exemplify his definition of courage.

In Chapter 9, Atticus explains to Scout the importance of defending Tom Robinson, stating, "Simply because we were licked a hundred years before we started is no reason for us not to try to win" (Lee 101). This quote emphasizes Atticus's belief that even if the odds are stacked against him, it is essential to stand up for what is right. Atticus's determination to fight for justice demonstrates his unwavering courage.

Atticus's definition of courage challenges societal norms and expectations. In a deeply segregated community, he goes against the grain by defending a black man. Atticus's willingness to confront the ingrained racism and prejudice of Maycomb County showcases his moral courage. By staying true to his principles, he sets an example for his children and the reader, encouraging them to question and challenge injustice.

Another aspect of courage, according to Atticus, is the ability to empathize with others and see the world from their perspective. Atticus believes that understanding someone's struggles and showing compassion requires great courage. He teaches his children the importance of empathy by encouraging them to consider the experiences of others and not judge them based on their outward appearances.

In Chapter 3, Atticus tells Scout, "You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view... until you climb into his skin and walk around in it" (Lee 30). This quote illustrates Atticus's belief that true courage involves stepping outside of one's own perspective and trying to understand others. Atticus's empathetic nature allows him to connect with people from different walks of life, enabling him to serve as a source of support and understanding for those around him.

Atticus's emphasis on empathy challenges the prevailing mindset of Maycomb County, which often disregards the experiences and struggles of marginalized individuals. By teaching his children to see beyond the surface, Atticus fosters a sense of compassion and understanding. This aspect of courage not only enhances the novel's themes of justice and equality but also highlights the importance of empathy in creating a more inclusive society.

In To Kill a Mockingbird, Atticus Finch provides a nuanced understanding of courage. He rejects the notion that courage is solely defined by physical strength or recklessness, instead emphasizing the importance of standing up for what is right and empathizing with others. Atticus's unwavering commitment to justice and his ability to see beyond societal prejudices make him a symbol of true courage. Through his actions and beliefs, Atticus challenges the reader to question their own definitions of courage and to strive for a more just and empathetic world.

Overall, Atticus's understanding of courage aligns with the novel's broader exploration of social justice and empathy. By examining Atticus's definition of courage and its implications, readers can gain a deeper appreciation for the complex themes and messages conveyed in To Kill a Mockingbird.


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Lee, Harper. To Kill a Mockingbird. Warner Books, 1982.

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Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

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What is Real Courage According to Atticus. (2024, Jun 13). GradesFixer. Retrieved July 20, 2024, from
“What is Real Courage According to Atticus.” GradesFixer, 13 Jun. 2024,
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