Courage in To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

560 Words2 Pages
The character of Jem Finch, in Harper Lee’s novel To Kill A Mockingbird, noticeably matures and changes throughout the story. His father Atticus has just been assigned a case in which he must defend an African American, which gains him and his family negative attention from most of the town. However, he still finds time to raise Jem and his younger sister Scout, which includes him teaching them about what is takes to possess courage. Jem’s original idea of courage was measured by physical as opposed to moral means. As Jem ages, he learns that courage can also be defined as not just doing something for the attention but doing it because it is the right thing to do. When Jem and Scout discover Tim Johnson approaching them, they run to tell Calpurnia who then calls Atticus. Atticus comes home with the town sheriff Heck Tate, who is unable to shoot and hands the gun to Atticus. Atticus, hesitant at first, takes the gun even though he is uncomfortable and nervous, “Atticus rubbed his eyes and chin; we saw him blink hard.” However, he still shoots the dog because he knows it is the only way to ensure the neighborhood’s safety and it will end the dog’s misery, “…he brought the gun to his shoulder. The rifle cracked.” Jem sees that Atticus’ action required moral courage because even though he didn’t want to, Atticus still shot the dog because it was the best thing to do in the situation. Later in the story, Atticus is assigned a case to defend Tom Robinson, a black man who is
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