In the novel To Kill a Mockingbird written by Harper Lee was published in the 1960s when the civil rights movement was growing and striving to attain equal rights for the African-Americans. In her novel, Lee shows that it takes courage to stand up against injustice. First, the judgemental characteristic of Aunt Alexandra displays the fear of rejection from her town which proves that she does not have the courage to stand up against the injustice and prejudice that exists in her town. Secondly, Atticus’s courage is shown by standing up for what he thinks is right despite the insults and degrading names the citizens of Maycomb throw at him. Thirdly, the great value that withholds behind the lessons taught by their father helps Jem and Scout have guidance to gain courage to stand up against the town’s worldview. First, the judgemental characteristic of Aunt Alexandra displays the fear of rejection from her town which proves that she does not have the courage to stand up against the injustice and prejudice that exists in her town.
She has showed her concern of Scout becoming a tomboy, as she later decides to move in with her brother to provide a female influence in the children’s lives. Aunt Alexandra has evidently portrayed her concern about Scout’s femininity as she partakes in the activities that Jem and his friend Dill engage in which doesn’t settle well with her aunt as she explains, “I could not possibly hope to be a lady if I wore breeches; when I said I could do nothing in a dress, she said i wasn’t supposed to do anything that required pants.” (Lee 92) This description is said from Scout but displays the judgemental stereotypical side of Aunt Alexandra as she explains to Scout that girls should wear dresses and partake in female activities such as: playing dress up, drinking tea with the girls and etc. which shows that girls should not be doing anything that required pants. This example was clearly stereotypical and as Atticus, the lawyer defending a black man by the name of Tom was courageous enough to go against the worldview of his town, Alexandra told his children that it “”If Uncle Atticus lets you run around with stray dogs, that’s his own business, like Grandma says, so it ain’t your fault.
I guess it ain’t your fault if Uncle Atticus is a nigger-lover besides, but I’m here to tell you it certainly does mortify the rest of the family” (94). This quote proves that Aunt Alexandra is not courageous enough to stand up against injustice that exists in her town instead she fears that the Finches popularity will plummet may be well-founded. The next point is strengthened as the story progresses to the final stage of Scout’s development. As she, tries to confront her aunt’s classist views. Scout believes, she has misjudged Walter Cunningham, deciding to invite him to the Finch house. Aunt Alexandra responds saying “Don’t be silly, Jean Louise,’ said Aunt Alexandra. ‘The thing is, you can scrub Walter Cunningham till he shines, you can put him in shoes and a new suit, but he’ll never be like Jem. Besides, there’s a drinking streak in that family a mile wide. Finch women aren’t interested in that sort of people” (255). Aunt Alexandra displays several aspects of classism into her comment. She retracts all physical attributes that mark him as a lower class citizen, intimidating that Walter will never live up to the highborn Jem.
Aunt Alexandra views class as an indicator for a person’s worth, while Jem and Scout believe everyone is the same inside. Scout knows she will not win this argument but exhibits courage in trying to hold her off as long as she could. She is standing up for her beliefs regardless of the outcome of the argument. Scout has not only realized the wrongdoing of classism inflicts, but is now aware enough to set about trying to rectify the misdeeds. In realizing the difficulty of changing people’s attitudes towards each other, but doing what she can, Scout has made Atticus her role model and is following in his footsteps, and has completed her maturation with the change in her environment. All in all, these quotes display the classist views that Aunt Alexandra withholds in order to protect her town’s worldview. Secondly, Atticus’s courage is shown by standing up for what he thinks is right despite the insults and degrading names the citizens of Maycomb throw at him. To Atticus, he found that moral courage is more admirable than physical courage.
With the neighbourhood panicking, Atticus calmly takes Mr. Tate’s rifle to face a rabid dog that had been wandering on the street. Even though his children marvel at his courageous act, Atticus is uninterested in using this event to educate his children about courage. On the other hand, Atticus explains to Jem why he admires Mrs. Dubose despite her racism, stating “I wanted you to see to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand, she was the bravest person I ever knew. (112) Atticus believes that Mrs. Dubose’s determination and courage obviously overpower his hero-like act. In addition, he admires Mrs. Dubose for confronting her addiction with everything her fragile body and strong mind can handle despite the fact that only few morphine addicts manage to purge themselves of the drug. However, even though she knows her death is a few months away, Mrs. Dubose keeps fighting for what she believes in and overcomes her addiction despite, her passing.
Mrs. Dubose most likely reminds Atticus of him in defending Tom Robinson, a black man; even though he knows that the community is against his decision. Atticus knows that it is inevitable Tom will be convicted regardless of his innocence due to the racism that exists in Maycomb and in its court room. He then explains “You rarely win, but sometimes you do” (128). Atticus didn’t win the court case but he knew that he had tried his best in protecting the mockingbird, amonst the prejudice that ruled in Maycomb. The African-Americans appreciated the work that he instilled while on this case because it changed some people’s perspective on the blacks which gave them a new insight on how courage is a true aspect in changing the town’s worldview. Almost, at the end of the novel as the trial ends, Atticus finds himself getting spat in the face by Bob Ewell which he takes lightly as he tells Jem, “Jem see if you can stand in Bob Ewell’s shoes a minute. I destroyed his last shred of credibility at that trial, if he had any to begin with.
The man had to have some kind of comeback, his kind always does. So if spitting in my face and threatening me saved Mayella Ewell one extra beating, that’s something I’ll gladly take. He had to take it out on somebody and I’d rather it be me than that household full of children out there.” (249). Here, he is teaching the value of compassion towards others. After having Bob, spit in his face, he could have simply done the same but knew the right thing to do was to forgive and forget. Atticus displays the human goodness by responding in a respectful manner which teaches Jem to treat others the way you want to be treated whatever the circumstances. The moral courage that Atticus has allows his children to be influenced positively and displays the human goodness he withholds despite the injustice that exists in his town. Thirdly, the great value that withholds behind the lessons taught by their father, helps Jem and Scout have guidance to gain courage to stand up against the town’s worldview. . Atticus is very honest, and moral.
Throughout the novel, he ensures to provide positive influences and lessons to his children so they understand to respect their authority and to grow up, knowing right from wrong. One of the first lessons that were taught to Scout was to look at things from another’s perspective. The lesson was to “’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.” (33). This passage exemplifies the special bond between Atticus and his daughter, Scout. Throughout the novel, Scout learns more from her father than anyone else. Atticus teaches Scout important things about life and the world that she does acquire from school. Scout listens to Atticus very carefully. has great respect for him, and deeply values his advice. Another issue that strikes Atticus to strongly display his morals was the Boo Radley intrigue that helped depict the prejudice and the injustice that was caused by the town’s worldview.
The children decide to re-enact a play based on the rumours and the pieces of information that they hear on their neighbour Boo Radley. After a few weeks of re-enacting, their father catches them trying to write a letter to Boo which provokes him to strongly state “You stop this nonsense right now, every one of you” (55). He believes that the kids are making fun of the Radley’s which infuriates Atticus, because he wants his kids to have good moral values and making fun of another family doesn’t play out in his cards. Jem and Scout mature as time passes and gain more and more respect for the lessons that they are taught by their father. Almost, at the end of the novel when the children attend a local carnival on Halloween night, Bob Ewell attempts to kill the children when Boo comes in and saves the children by killing Bob. It later results, in having Atticus and Mr. Tate jump into the situation, the sheriff decides that he would not arrest Boo Radley for killing Bob Ewell and that he would present his death as an accident; Atticus asked Scout if she understood the meaning of this decision. Scout replied that she did. Her exact words were “Well, it’d be sort of like shootin’ a mockingbird, wouldn’t it? “ (317).
Boo here is compared to the gentle bird and again it would be a sin to be punished for the murder he committed for he only acted to this extent to save the lives of the children. The distinction that Scout made showed her maturity and the sincere lessons that she took to heart. Scout and Jem have tremendous respect for their father, and value his advice with great appreciation. Through the lessons taught by Atticus, Jem and Scout lean to act accordingly to what they believe to be is right with courage. Therefore, the theme of courage is deeply enforced in the novel through the portrayal of Aunt Alexandra, Atticus, and Atticus`s kids. In her novel To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee shoes that it takes courage to stand up against injustice. Lee`s overall message was that although prejudice was deeply rooted during the time of segregation, you got to be courageous enough to stand up against injustice.
Lee, Harper. To Kill a Mockingbird. New York: Putman, 1960. Print.