Ã¯Â¿Â½PAGE Ã¯Â¿Â½ Ã¯Â¿Â½PAGE Ã¯Â¿Â½3Ã¯Â¿Â½ Victoria Colton
'TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD' and 'A TIME TO KILL' Essay
Compare and contrast the main character of Atticus Finch ("To Kill a Mockingbird") with Jake Brigance ("A Time to Kill.") Discuss their skills as a lawyer, development during the text, morals/values and relevance to the themes of prejudice/racism. Finally, which of the two do you believe shows greater character during their ordeal?
Atticus Finch, the hero of "To Kill a Mockingbird," and Jake Brigance, the leading man of "A Time to Kill," are both brave, determined lawyers. Though they share some similar techniques in the way they defend their clients, overall their methods as lawyers are quite different.
In the courtroom, Atticus' qualities are the same as they are in his everyday life. He takes being a lawyer seriously, and sees it as a calling, rather than a job. He is an experienced lawyer, and uses cross examination to discover that Bob Ewell was left handed, and that Tom Robinson's left arm was unusable - both crucial pieces of evidence for his case.
Jake, on the other hand, is young and inexperienced. Near the beginning of the case, Jake says to Carl Lee, "We're going to lose this case, Carl lee. There are no more points of law to argue here. I want to cop a plea, maybe Buckley will cop us a second degree murder and we can get you just life in prison." He was given assistance by his mentor, Lucius, and used his methods, rather than his own. However, as it came to the end of the film, Jake learned how to successfully defend Carl Lee on his own. He connected with the jury, realising what would help him win the case. "Can you see her? Her raped, beaten, broken body soaked in their urine, soaked in their semen, soaked in her blood, left to die. Can you see her? I want you to picture that little girl. Now imagine she's white."
Atticus' characteristics remain generally constant throughout the book, but he was swayed a little by his sister's input. He maintained his dignity, even when Bob Ewell spat in his face, saying, "So if spitting in my face and threatening me saved Mayella Ewell one extra beating, that's something I'll gladly take. He had to take it out on somebody and I'd rather it be me than that houseful of children out there." This persecution is also an example of Atticus being linked to the theme of prejudice in the story.
Jake develops dramatically throughout the film. Over time he learned to accept help from Ellen Roark, instead of being proud, and showed self control when tempted by her. He tried to create a true friendship with Carl Lee, and learned to find his own witnesses for the case, instead of relying on his mentor.
Jake's family are the most important thing to him, and were the main reason he took the case. "When I look at her though, I cannot help but think about Tonya," he said of his young daughter; he didn't want the same thing to happen to her. He also didn't compromise his marriage when given the chance. He speaks of truth and from his heart, questioning the courtroom, "What is it in us that seeks the truth? Is it our minds or is it our hearts?" Jake also believed in the death penalty; therefore he was probably not a Christian.
Atticus, however, was a brave Christian man with moral values. He was polite and humble, and saw everyone as equals. Scout said of her father, "It was times like these when I thought my father, who hated guns and had never been to any wars, was the bravest man who ever lived."
Atticus shows that he is above the people of Maycomb when he took Tom Robinson's case, rather than sharing their racist feelings. However, he still respected their choice; "They're certainly entitled to think that, and they're entitled to full respect for their opinions... but before I can live with other folks I've got to live with myself. The one thing that doesn't abide by majority rule is a person's conscience." Even when he and his family were deemed as outcasts, he didn't drop his case. He discouraged his children's prejudiced attitude towards Boo and the other Radleys, because he chose not to believe the rumours that were spread around Maycomb.
Jake opposed the rapists' racist and prejudiced attitude towards Negroes and women. He was not dispirited by the behaviours of the jury and injustice of the court system, or manipulated by the KKK. At the end of the film, Jake breaks through and forms a friendship with Carl Lee when he shows him that he cares by taking his family to Carl Lee's house for a barbeque.
Both Atticus and Jake show great character throughout "To Kill a Mockingbird" and "A Time to Kill." While Jake develops significantly during the film, "A Time to Kill," Atticus does not develop much throughout "To Kill a Mockingbird"; however, he was already a humble, courageous man in the beginning of the story. Both men stick up for what they believe in, and are not swayed by the thoughts and opinions of the townspeople where they live. During his ordeal, Atticus shows greater character than Jake did, because he takes the case more seriously and with dignity. He remains calm, even when things are hard for him. Jake, on the other hand, feels the need to send his family away so that he doesn't have to worry about them. The reason he took the case in the beginning was because for selfish reasons; because of his feeling of guilt, and not wanting the same thing to happen to his young daughter - rather than taking the case only out of the kindness of his heart, as Atticus did.