What is true courage? Could courage come from an old lady, or a man without a gun in his hand, or just from the urge to protect people you care about? At the beginning of the story the character Scout thinks that courage is when you do a physical act that is very precarious or frightening. It is hard for young children at that age to realize that greater courage can be shown in other aspects of life. But in To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, Scout and her brother, Jem Finch learn that courage can take many forms.
In To Kill a Mockingbird, Scout sees her father, Atticus, shoot a mad dog. Although Atticus does not think of it as a very courageous act, Jem and Scout were proud of their father. He was not trying to prove anything, yet they were still impressed. Later on in the story, Jem and Scout encounter the malevolent Mrs. Dubose. When she talks bad about Atticus, Jem decides that the best way to settle things is to destroy Mrs. Dubose's camellias. After Atticus hears about this, he makes Jem read to her every afternoon for a month. Jem and Scout soon find out that Mrs. Dubose was a very sick lady, and took morphine to assuage her pain. It was not until after she died that Atticus explains to Jem and Scout how courageous she was because she knew she was dying but was still determined to die free of her morphine addiction. He said “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” (149) to show them that courage isn’t always about doing something violent. Mrs. Dubose fought against great odds, even though she knew that it would cause her great suffering and eventually lead to her demise.
Atticus demonstrates courage when he accepts the task of defending Tom Robinson, a black man wrongly accused of rape. The jury couldn't possibly be expected to take Tom Robinson's word against the Ewells, and Atticus knows he won't win the case and like Mrs. Dubose in her battle against morphine, he is "licked before he begins” (149). Nevertheless, Atticus knows that Tom is not guilty and that he must defend him even though no one else would. Atticus's strong sense of morality and justice encourage him to defend Tom with vigor and determination, giving it all he's got with one mission in mind. He wants all the people of Maycomb to see the truth even if they don’t believe it. According to Atticus Finch, “It’s when you know you're licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what" (149). Atticus believes that real...