Dirt roads, with cascading dust drifting through the dry air.
Children playing on the lawn and wooden houses lined up like dominos. Maycomb, Alabama was a small town in the 1930s, but was ultimately filled with prejudice. The people in the town had to be courageous and face those problems. In Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird, the overall theme of true courage is clearly demonstrated by Atticus, the Finch children, and the townspeople of Maycomb, because of the hardships they face and conquer. Atticus Finch, the father of Scout and Jem, exhibits true courage. First, he fights the rabid dog Tim Johnson. When the mad dog poses a threat his children and his community, he takes action to protect those he loves, without worrying for his own safety.
Rather than letting the beast roam, he puts it out of its misery, by shooting it with a rifle, setting a good example of justice for his children. To add to that he takes on defending Tom Robinson, a black man, even when he knows he will ultimately lose the trial. Scout asks him why he is defending him if it’s wrong and Atticus replies, “The main one reason is, if I didn’t I couldn’t hold my head up in this town, I couldn’t represent this country in legislature,'” (Lee pg. 86). The whole town is against Tom and he knows it will tarnish his reputation. He did what he believed, putting aside ego and self-conceit. In addition to defending Tom, he stands up for his moral beliefs, even when the whole town ignores them. He teaches his children to put themselves in someone else’s shoes or how Mrs.
Dubose, their neighbor, wasn’t as mean as she seems. The town is racist and doesn’t teach these lessons, and Atticus standing out and being unique shows his true courage to do what’s right. Similarly, his children show true courage just as much as him. The Finch children reveal courage throughout the book. To start, Scout, known for her rebellious spirit and an urge to fight, declines a quarrel after a promise to her father. Cecil Jacobs, after calling Atticus a bunch of slurs, provokes Scout to fight but she controls herself and declines. This took a lot of gut and courage, as she can’t stand people taunting her father and feels the need to assert power over others to prove she is right. Similarly Jem returns to the Radley house to retrieve his overalls, mustering courage and pushing down his fear to get them.
According to Jem, “‘I’m going after ’em,’ he said. I sat upright. ‘You can’t. I won’t let you.
‘” (Lee pg. 63). Nevertheless, he ventures out in the middle of the night and reclaims them, facing his fear. Lastly, the two of them along with Dill stand up to the crowd of men going after Tom Robinson. After following Atticus to see him “guarding” Tom from the men, they walk up to the men and use their intelligence and innocence to push them away. To intervene a group of angered adults takes a lot of courage. Overall, the selfless acts of the children showed true courage, just like other people in their town.
Finally, the townsfolk of Maycomb all show true courage. Mrs. Dubose, the neighbor of the Finches, battled her painkiller addiction and showed her fighting spirit to Jem. As Atticus said about true courage, “It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what…Mrs. Dubose won, all ninety-eight pounds of her.
” (Lee pg. 128). Jem used to think courage was a muscular, brawny person, but he learns true courage comes in all different forms. Besides her, Boo Radley, a reserved, scrawny man, saves the children from Bob Ewell and shows his fearlessness. Bob Ewell, targeting citizens of Maycomb who were involved in the trial, goes to attack Jem and Scout, as a way to hurt Atticus. But, Boo leaves his home, and fights him off, and takes Jem with a broken arm, back to his home.
Boo is a solitary person, and chooses to stay out of the spotlight, except for when he saw the children were in danger, and he rushed to save them, after watching them from the shadows all those years. Tom Robinson, suspect of raping a white woman, also shows his courage during the trial. Being a black man, standing up to a crowd and jury and to state he is innocent is very courageous, as he could easily be hurt or killed outside of the trial for making such accusations. Hence, by being truthful in times of peril, he showed courage. Overall, between the racism in town and the trial of Tom Robinson, many conflicts appeared throughout the story.
The book shows how important it is to have true courage, and take action instead of being a bystander. In To Kill a Mockingbird, true courage is evident in many forms, both physical and mental, which helps the characters evolve as people in the town of Maycomb.