Atticus Finch: A Modern Day Hero

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Heroes are not invincible, and certainly are not the ones who always win; however, a hero is someone who, despite this, is courageous enough to fight for what is right. Atticus Finch, one of the most inspiring literary characters from the highly acclaimed novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, written by Harper Lee, is an example of such. This classic novel is told from the perspective of Scout Finch, Atticus’ daughter, a young girl who lives in the town of Maycomb County, Alabama, in the 1930s, a town where prejudice and discrimination is rife. Rather than succumbing to societal expectations and adopting the extreme animosity held by the other citizens, Atticus views and treats all with the dignity and respect that they are entitled to, guiding his…show more content…
In Maycomb County, the Negroes are viewed as inferior, and in addition, the Jim Crow laws are enforced to ensure segregation. As a result, they do not have equal rights as the other citizens. When Atticus is asked to defend Tom Robinson, a Negro man accused of raping a white girl, he accepts. To the community this was improper. The community’s disgust at Atticus’ decision is expressed when Scout is irked by Cecil Jacobs, a boy in her class, when he announces that, “Scout Finch’s daddy defended niggers.” (p. 82). Perplexed by what he means, Scout asks Atticus, who explains that he is “simply defending a negro” (p. 83). When questioned by Scout why he is defending Tom, Atticus replies, “For a number of reasons…The main one is, if I didn’t I couldn’t hold up my head in town, I couldn’t represent this county in the legislature, I couldn’t even tell you or Jem not to do something again.” (p. 83). Furthermore, he states that this case is one he is affected personally by, and that even though he knew that they were not going to win, he agreed because, “Simply because we were licked a hundred years before we started is no reason for us not to try to win.” (p. 84). This example reveals that even though Atticus knows he is going to lose, he wants to do everything in his power to give Tom the best chance in case justice prevails. Also, he was emotionally invested in this case, and he knew that his conscience would not allow him to do what was not right, regardless of others’ opinions. Heroes generally go against what is expected, stay true to their morals, and always persevere, no matter how dire the outcome is expected to be. These are the exact traits that Atticus exhibits by representing Tom, which is why he is a modern-day hero. Despite Atticus’ best efforts, and Tom’s apparent innocence, Tom is found guilty of rape. Atticus
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