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Courage, Theme of To Kill A Mocking Bird
Uploaded by smartblonde (47) on May 4, 2005
Courage as a Theme in To Kill a Mockingbird
There are many themes in the book To Kill a Mockingbird, written by Harper Lee. However, one of the
most predominate is courage. This theme is shown by almost all of the characters in the novel.
Atticus has strong views on courage. He shows this when he taught Jem and Scout to be brave for
instance, when he told Scout to stop fighting the people that mock her Scout had to be brave enough to
ignore the harsh remarks and put herself above them. One person that Atticus admired for having real
courage is Mrs. Dubose. When Jem ruined her camellias because she verbally hurt him, he made
Jem go and read to her. He did this not only because it was a punishment but because he wanted Jem
to learn from her. When Atticus said, "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" This showed how much Atticus respected Mrs.
Dubose for trying to overcome her addiction. He also called her "the bravest person I ever knew".
Atticus wanted Jem and Scout to know that he was not courageous for being able to shoot a crazy dog
dead with one shot but he is courageous for defending Tom Robinson even though he knew he had
lost before he started. He teaches them that being courageous is standing up for what you think is right
no matter what others believe.
Courage is also shown within the community. When there is a fire at Miss Maudie's house, the book
says that, "The men of Maycomb, in all degrees of dress and undress, took furniture from Miss
Maudie's house to a yard across the street". The most important part of this statement is, "in all
degrees of dress and undress". This shows that the people that came to help, came straight away. If
the men would have dressed first, then they would have thought about whether to help or not, but they
came straight from their beds to help.
Boo's most courageous act was when he saved Jem and Scout's lives when Bob Ewell attacked them.
When Boo saw that "his children needed him," his courage overrode the town's prejudice and he
risked his own life to save Jem and Scout's lives. He was rewarded in his acts by Heck Tate. Everyone
in that house knew that it was Boo who actually killed Bob Ewell, but it was Heck Tate that said Boo
was innocent. He did this because he knew what Mr. Ewell did was wrong. This was his way of
thanking Boo for saving Atticus' children. Many people showed courage in this book, but ultimately it is
Atticus that teaches us that, "Courage is knowing you're licked from the start, but starting anyway."