How are Atticus's attitudes to prejudice demonstrated within the novel To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee?

Essay by Mono.High School, 11th grade June 2004

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In the novel To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee, Atticus Finch is seen almost as a pillar of society, a champion of the Negroes' cause in a white man's world. This is demonstrated in several ways. Firstly, by the fact that Atticus, despite massive public outcry, decides to take on Tom Robinson's defense case, and even more so when he puts in an honest effort to defend him, and secondly, in the way that Atticus attempts to bring up Scout and Jem in a way that they will also share his view of the world when they grow older.

Atticus lives by his philosophy that it is a sin not to try to do the right thing, even if one knows that they cannot achieve their goal, they must always try. This is shown in the conversation, "

'Atticus, are we going to win it?'

'No, honey.'

'Then why -'

Simply because we were licked a hundred years before we started is no reason for us not to try to win.'

". By this, he defies the town and all its residents. He dares to step outside the norm of prejudice accepted by the town. Regardless of each of the townspeople's personal thoughts and beliefs with regard to prejudice, they all place more importance on keeping the respect of each other and securing their place in the social strata than they do on voicing their opinions and making it clear what they believe. Atticus stands out in this respect in that he is not afraid to voice his opinions on racism, whether to his children or to the entire town. When he takes on the Tom Robinson case, he is, by defending a Negro in a case that is essentially the word of a Negro against the word...