To kill a Mockingbird

Essay by frogsgoquackJunior High, 8th gradeA+, May 2009

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In Harper Lee’s, To Kill a Mockingbird, one of the main themes is courage. Throughout the book some of the characters show signs of having courage such as Ms. Dubose, Arthur “Boo” Radley, and Atticus Finch. When Ms. Dubose overcomes her drug addiction, when “Boo” Radley finally decides to leave his house and when Atticus takes on a case that no one else has the courage to take. Each of these events teach Jem and Scout, Atticus’ children, about the power courage. It illustrates that courage is not always a liberator. That even a dying old woman, a child-like adult, and even a “not so tough” father can have courage.

Ms. Dubose was an old lady that was often impolite and cruel to Jem and Scout, her only enjoyment lying in her flowers. She spent her last few years trying to break her addiction to morphine, a secret no one knew about.

“She said she meant to break herself of it before she died, and that’s what she did.”(p. 111) Jem and Scout were surprised to hear Ms. Dubose had been sick, that she chose to break the obsession when having a painless death would have been easier. Atticus has a discussion with Jem and Scout about her courage to overcome her addiction. He attempts to get them to understand that “[Courage is] when you know you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyways and you see it through no matter what.” (p. 112) That courage is not only “a man with a gun in his hand.” (p.112) It is also an old lady that did not take the easy way out; instead she followed her morals and views. For some “she is the bravest person [they] ever knew.” (p.112)Arthur “Boo” Radley displays courage when he leaves his house to save Jem and Scout. Boo’s house was where he could escape the cruel world. But the day Jem and Scout were attack, Boo came outside his house. That Boo presented courage. After the children were safe, Boo asked to be taken home. “He almost whispered it, in the voice of a child afraid of the dark.” (p.278) It was oblivous that Boo was afraid of being outside of house. But when he saw Jem and Scout in danger, he had the courage to go and save them, although he could have been hurt also.

Atticus, Jem and Scouts’ father, is a lawyer; he takes on a difficult case Maycomb County’s white dominant judicial system. Atticus is defending a black man accused of raping a white women. Atticus takes on the case because he knows the black man is innocent. He also understands that by taking on this case, plenty of people will terrorize him and his family. “They’re perfectly willing to let him wreck his health doing what they’re afraid to do.” (p.236). Nearly everyone views the case as a done deal in favor of the white woman, but Atticus has courage. “Simply because we were licked a hundred years before we started is no reason for us not to try to win.” (p.76) Even though he knows he cannot win, Atticus has to courage to step forward and try, even if he is ridiculed along the way.

Through To Kill a Mockingbird, Jem and Scout learn about courage. They begin to understand that courage is having the determination to stand up for what you believe is right. Throughout their childhood, every event adds to their overall character. To Kill a Mockingbird is about the life of Jem and Scout, the people they meet, the things they learn, and the adventures they have. Jem and Scout meet these three remarkable people, each with the courage to fight for what they believe in. They learn that courage is not just about swords and dragons, it is about going through with your goal. Jem and Scout each have adventure that shows us their incredible courage. To stumble into the adult world, to grow up is an amazing adventure that needs courage as well.

Lee, Harper. To Kill a Mockingbird. New York: Warner Books, Inc., 1960.