Foolishness In To Kill A Mockingbird

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To children like Jem and Scout Finch, being courageous is completing a daredevil like task to impress others; however, as they grow up they learn what true courage is as they face situations where their courage is tested. They also witness an obstacle Atticus Finch overcomes that enhances their definition of courage. In the novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee distinguishes foolishness from real acts of courage through the experiences of Jem, Scout, and Atticus Finch. At the beginning of the novel, Jem and Scout believe courage is getting close to Boo Radley, a character whom has a reputation of stabbing his father in the leg with a pair of scissors and committing all of the small crimes in Maycomb. While Jem and Scout’s friend Dill…show more content…
Up until this trial, Scout and Jem have only partially understood what true courage is. They have not fully understood it until their father Atticus takes on a trial to defend a black man. Atticus tells Scout why he takes on the trial when he explains, “Scout, simply by the nature of the work, every lawyer gets at least one case in his lifetime that affects him personally. This one’s mine, I guess. You might hear some ugly talk about it at school, but do one thing for me if you will: you just hold your head high and keep those fists down” (Lee 86-87). In a town where Atticus will be looked down upon for defending a black man, he still defends him because he knows it is what he has to do. This teaches Scout to do what she thinks is right even if she will be made fun of. Scout learns from Atticus that even if she knows that she is not going to be successful she still needs to have the courage to stand up for her beliefs when Atticus says, “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. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do” (Lee 128). Atticus teaches Scout that true courage is standing up for what you believe in no matter the consequence. Even though Atticus knew he was going to lose the case with Tom Robinson, he was able to do it because he knew it was the right thing to do and it needed to be done. Throughout the novel, courage is portrayed through various instances that affect each of the characters. Scout and Jem witness these instances and mature because of it. Their development of the meaning of courage changes from childish dares to standing up for others even if that means standing alone. The trials that Jem, Scout, and
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