To Kill A Mockingbird
“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 149). True bravery is when you’re aware that the odds are against you, however, you have the ability to persevere through it. Even though you don’t want to complete the task ahead of you, an inner force brings you the motivation to do it.
Sincere courageousness doesn’t always entail violence; in fact, courage comes from the choices made within that affect yourself or those around you. The outcome may not always be to your advantage, but occasionally you get lucky. Atticus is trying to show his children that having the guts to finish what seems impossible is a great quality to possess.
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He’s trying to prove that weapons won’t always determine one’s bravery. In this case, their neighbor Mrs. Dubose was a morphine addict. She was determined to overcome her addiction before she passed.
Since the drug is highly addictive, she knew that the challenge would be extremely difficult, however, she persisted anyway. The result was that Mrs. Dubose did in fact overcome her addiction prior to her death. She displayed genuine courage because she trampled through her withdraws without batting an eye. In real life, the story of Mrs. Dubose’s courageousness is an important life lesson. It teaches that willpower and strength of mind are crucial to reach the end as a champion. Knowing that the odds are against you yet still trucking to achieve the goal is true courage.
Obstacles may thwart you temporarily, but in the end courage will allow you to crush the obstacles and keep going. It’s bravery that is necessary for the journey called life. “Baby, it’s never an insult to be called what somebody thinks is a bad name. It just shows you how poor that person is, it doesn’t hurt you. ” (Lee 144-145). If you strongly believe in something that another person looks down upon, it shouldn’t affect your beliefs; it only reveals the true character of the person making the insult. Stay true to yourself if you have different ideas than what the rest of society thinks is socially acceptable.
If someone calls you out on your values, don’t reevaluate your principles. Take pride in being labeled for who you are. The person doing the labeling is only depreciating themselves for saying something with a purpose to hurt another. Atticus wants to teach his children to not be ashamed of standing out in their community for what they believe in. He wants them to stand strong when ignorant people say nasty comments about them because it only shows the real makeup of those people. Mrs. Dubose called Atticus an “n lover” in front of Jem and Scout.
In Maycomb, a majority of the residents were racist so calling someone that was only said with the intention of damaging somebody. When Atticus was called that malicious comment, he didn’t think anything of it. He didn’t let it affect him; it only showed what an ignorant woman Mrs. Dubose was. In the real world, negative comments are said about everyone. People receive hate if something about them is not what society thinks is common or normal. Being called an awful name shouldn’t impact you negatively; it should let others come to realize the flaws in the person that is calling people those awful names.
Bullies think they are wounding their victim, but in actuality, they are showing their audience what a lousy fellow they are by putting others down. “…but do one thing for me if you will: you just hold your head high and keep those fists down. No matter what anybody says to you, don’t let ‘em get your goat. Try fighting with your head for a change… it’s a good one, even if it does resist learning. ” (Lee 101). Do not resort to physical violence when in a sticky situation; instead, fix things with a conversation. Don’t let hurtful comments get to you. If you deal with things in a peaceful manner, a solution will arrive sooner.
A fist fight will only cause more problems and make things worse. Atticus wants Scout to be less hot headed and more diplomatic. Her first instinct when placed in a situation where she has the disadvantage is to beat that person up. Atticus wants to teach Scout to deal with harsh, rude remarks calmly so they don’t boil up inside her. He wants her to learn to work out problems nicely because she has a logical mind if she would use it correctly. She rebels against what she’s taught when she’s thinking too quickly but if she took time to sort things out, a peaceful solution could be reached.
Cecil Jacobs, a boy at Scout’s school, announced that Scout’s father defended n’s and was a disgrace. Scout was infuriated by the way he said it. She was ready to defend herself and Atticus with her fists but decided against it and walked away. She listened to Atticus’s advice because she didn’t want to let him down. Even though she was called a coward, she retained her dignity through Atticus’s approval. In general, anyone who has to deal with a bully shouldn’t fight fire with fire. Retaliation and physical fights are not the answer. Maintain pride in yourself and your beliefs.
Don’t stoop so low as to want to hurt someone. As an alternative, find a solution that will make sure that problem isn’t aroused again. “Simply because we were licked a hundred years before we started is no reason for us not to try to win. ” (Lee 101). Even if history had its rough patches, there is still a chance in the present to fix your label. People are often judged based upon previous peoples’ actions. However, whatever our ancestors were like doesn’t have to affect us. We have the power to switch things up and make our own history.
We can go against the norms of society to create a better world to dwell in. Atticus is telling Scout that even though history is definite, the present doesn’t have to be. Even though history has impacted the culture of current times, if it isn’t right it doesn’t have to stick. People can make their way of life their own and not have it based upon poor actions of old, white men hundreds of years ago. Atticus is defending Tom Robinson, a black man, in a court case. History tells that the black race is inferior and therefore should automatically be guilty.
However, Atticus puts in his all to defend Tom and is determined to win the case. He makes the racist jury ponder their final decision about the verdict. Clearly, Atticus almost got through to them that history was immoral in its treatment to blacks. Even today, certain groups are discriminated against simply for what we know about their past. For example, just because Jews were targeted in the past doesn’t mean they are a threat now. We’ve got batches of new generations that can learn from mistakes of the past and move forward, leaving behind old ways that aren’t necessarily ethical.
Even if history has left the odds against certain ideas, it doesn’t mean the circumstances can’t change for the ideas to evolve and become effective. “…but sometimes we have to make the best of things, and the way we conduct ourselves when the chips are down…but before I can live with other folks I’ve got to live with myself. The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience. ” (Lee 139-140). Even when faced in a difficult situation, you must try to turn things in your direction and look on the bright side.
If you don’t like how you’re living then make it a priority to change it. Nobody else can tell you what’s right and wrong. Your inner voice is the only thing that will tell you what is good for you. Make yourself satisfied before going out of your way for others; you’re the only one that will be with you your entire life. Not everybody chooses to do the right thing; few people will take into consideration every single consequence that may occur. Atticus teaches his children to not be completely brainwashed by the ways of society. He doesn’t care what the rest of Maycomb thinks of him.
He will continue to defend Tom to the best of his ability because that’s what he feels is the right thing to do. He is sticking up for himself first. Atticus chats with Scout while Jem apologizes to Mrs. Dubose after chopping her flower heads off about the upcoming case. He stands firmly on not changing his mind when the town is against him. Critical moments like these show one’s true character. They can either follow the crowd or be their own individual. Before reaching a conclusion based on what others will think of you, first decide what is best for you and only you.
As Dr. Seuss once said, “Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You. ” Be yourself. Make choices that you approve. “Well, in the first place you never stopped to gimme a chance to tell you my side of it- you just lit right into me. When Jem an’ I fuss Atticus doesn’t ever listen to Jem’s side of it, he hears mine too, an’ in the second place you told me never to use words like that except in ex-extreme provocation, and Francis provocated me enough to knock his block off” (Lee 113-114). “Jack! When a child asks you something, answer him, for goodness’ sake. But don’t make a production of it.
Children are children, but they can spot an evasion quicker than adults, and evasion simply muddles ‘em. ” (Lee 116). Be sure to listen to all viewpoints in a story before accusing someone after hearing solely one side of the tale. In addition, vulgar words are only to be used when exceptionally aggravated. Moreover, if a curious adolescent questions an idea he/she doesn’t quite understand, be sure to give a response. Avoiding it and beating around the bush with imaginary stories only irritates them. Atticus is telling Uncle Jack to be more straightforward in his answers to kids. They deserve to know the truth.
Also, Scout teaches Uncle Jack to listen to both sides of a story before jumping to conclusions. In this situation, Uncle Jack whooped Scout for beating up Francis, but in reality, Francis instigated Scout to do such actions by saying inconsiderate things about Atticus. The adults only saw the result of the fight and thought Scout was to blame. Scout also uses improper words that Uncle Jack tells her not to unless in extreme provocation, which in this case there was. Furthermore, when Scout asks Uncle Jack what a “whore-lady” is, he tells an irrelevant tale when Atticus would rather him spill the true meaning.
In real life, especially in a courtroom, both sides of a story need to be told in order to find the correct person at fault, rude words shouldn’t be used in a casual context, and dodging answers, especially from children, will only lead you further away from a resolution. “‘First of all,’ he said, ‘if you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you’ll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…until you climb into his skin and walk around in it. ’” (Lee 39).
In order to truly relate to somebody you must try on their shoes for a while and see how they fit. Walk the paths they’ve walked and take notice of your surroundings. You can’t just judge somebody on the outside without knowledge of their past experiences. Your relationships with others will depend on how well you are able to connect yourself to them, even if you are polar opposites. Atticus doesn’t want his children to come to a conclusion about someone they haven’t met based on physical appearance. He wants them to imagine themselves as that person so they can understand their history.
He wants to shift their paradigm and have them become open minded. At school, Miss Caroline told Scout that her ways of reading and writing were wrong. However, Miss Caroline and her education system are new to Maycomb and therefore she cannot be expected to learn all the ways of Maycomb in one day. Atticus tells Scout to see things from Miss Caroline’s point of view so Scout can understand why Miss Caroline acts the way she does. It’s not right to judge anyone before knowing their true makeup and personality. They may mask it to protect themselves or pretend to be someone they’re not to fit in.
Until you walk a thousand miles in their shoes, you will never understand why a person acts the way they do. Their shoes may seem too big or too small but until you try them on you’ll never know. You’d be surprised; they may fit just right. “…but remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird. ” (Lee 119). It’s immoral to destroy something that does no harm. Mockingbirds don’t do anything to cause destruction like eating crops or gardens; they only make wonderful music for all to enjoy. There is no reason to take the life of something that doesn’t create mischief.
Atticus is trying to get through to his children that innocence doesn’t deserve a punishment. The purity of someone should be left alone and not bothered with. Atticus gifted to his kids air-rifles but wouldn’t teach them how to shoot. He told Jem to shoot at tin cans but if he must go after birds, shoot the blue jays and not the mockingbirds since they do no harm. Later in the novel, we learn that the mockingbird represents Boo Radley.
He was only trying to protect Scout and Jem by fighting off enemy Mr. Ewell. Instead of convicting Boo of a crime, Atticus and sheriff Heck Tate let him be because they knew his only motive for attacking Mr. Ewell was to defend the children. This goes to show that kind hearted citizens do not deserve an immediate punishment. They may have a reason for their actions that you didn’t think of. Listen to their side of the story before jumping to conclusions. “‘A mob’s always made up of people, no matter what. Mr. Cunningham was part of a mob last night, but he was still a man. Every mob in every little Southern town is always made up of people you know-doesn’t say much for them, does it? …That proves something-that a gang of wild animals can be stopped, simply because they’re still human. ’” (Lee 210).
An individual doesn’t get much representation in a crowd, but still has the ability to influence it. When you’re part of a group you tend to go along with the majority, however, you may be hiding your own opinions. Your own moral code can shine through the outer protective layer trying to assimilate. Atticus is trying to teach his children to get their ideas out there and don’t always do something because everyone else is. Be a leader, not a follower. You’re entitled to your own opinions and it’s alright to share them. It’s acceptable to stand out in a horde because of your beliefs.
Atticus was faced against a mob of Cunninghams in front of the jailhouse. He was threatened but stood firmly by Tom Robinson to make sure he wasn’t moved to a different jail. The gang had the idea of hurting Atticus until Scout stepped in and changed just one person’s mind. She affected one person in the group which caused the entire mob to think differently. Maintain your own morals when placed in a tricky situation. Be your own person. You wouldn’t want to be labeled for something you’re a part of that might not completely depict the kind of person you are. Uniqueness is what the human race is all about.
“But there is one way in this country in which all men are created equal-there is one human institution that makes a pauper the equal of Rockefeller, the stupid man the equal of an Einstein, and the ignorant man the equal of any college president. That institution, gentleman, is a court…our courts are great levelers, and in our courts all men are created equal. ” (Lee 274). The fairest equalizer in the world is a courthouse. Men are all the same according to the law. They all have the same rights and privileges no matter race, gender, background, sexuality, etc. Previous judgments are wiped out to make way for a new one.
Atticus strongly believes in equality, and in this case he deals with racial equality. He wants his children to be open minded about each and every kind of person out there. He doesn’t want them judging and discriminating against people they don’t know. He wants to show them that social injustices are invalid in the courtroom and that everyone can have a fair shot. Unfortunately, during this time period, racism is present in the courts and often determined the verdict. While defending the black man, Atticus showed enough evidence necessary to prove that Tom was not guilty.
Alas, the jury decided the verdict to be guilty. However, Atticus made the jury ponder for hours if Tom was guilty or not. Never before had the jury taken so long to decide if a black man was guilty or not. This goes to show that the court took a step in the right direction toward equality in court. No matter the situation or place, it must come to people’s attention that inequality is unacceptable. Acceptance is the key to serenity. The world would be a better place to inhabit if everyone truly believed in equality. No exceptions would be made, especially in a courtroom.