In today’s media centered-society, the virtue of courage is often misconstrued. Courage is portrayed in media as the lack of fear in dangerous situations. Courage is not about being fearless; it is instead the act of one overcoming their fears to pursue what they believe is morally right. The novel “To Kill A Mockingbird” provides prime examples of characters displaying courage by conquering their fears for the greater good, On e can see this when Atticus defends Tom Robinson, when Atticus kills the rabid dog and when Boo Radley saves Jem and Scout from Bob Ewell.
Atticus is worried about the safety of Tom Robinson in the jailhouse, so he stands guard outside all night. A mob of men approach him and attempt to convince him to let them in, but Atticus refuses, risking his own safety.
“‘He in there, Mr. Finch?’ A man said.
‘He is,’ we heard Atticus answer, ‘and he’s asleep. Don’t wake him up.’
… ‘You know what we want,’ another man said. ‘Get aside from the door, Mr. Finch.’
‘You can turn around and go home again, Walter,’ Atticus said pleasantly.” (151)
In this passage we can see that Atticus possesses the virtue of courage because of the way he handles this converging mob. Despite being confronted by such a large, threatening group, Atticus handles the situation coolly, acting almost as if this was a social visit. The response, “…‘and he’s asleep. Don’t wake him up.’” Shows that Atticus is trying to avoid an obvious confrontation, he knows that the mob is here to harm Tom and therefore doesn’t care at all whether he is woken up or not, but Atticus adopts the naïve visage of someone who doesn’t realize the current situation. The mob members see through this act and directly order Atticus to “Get aside from the door,” it is in this moment that Atticus’ true courage shines through. The simplest and safest course of action would have been to let the mob get through. The next instinct of most people would be to respond to the threat in kind, elevating the confrontation, but Atticus keeps a clear head, and though his response is more or less in the form of a warning, he still says it “pleasantly” making it harder for the confrontation to escalate. In his response to this very precarious situation, Atticus displays true courage by placing his morals above his own fears.
As the children are playing, they notice a dog acting strangely. Calpurnia soon recognizes this as a mad dog and warns the neighbours, all of whom hide in their houses immediately. As the dog approaches the house, Atticus urges Heck Tate to kill it, instead, Mr. Tate hands the rifle to Atticus, asking him to shoot.
“‘For God’s sake, Mr. Finch, look where he is! Miss and you’ll go straight into the Radley house! I can’t shoot that well and you know it!’
‘I haven’t shot a gun in thirty years’
… ‘I’d feel might comfortable...