3 December 2014
Morality: Behavior or State of Being? Alfred North Whitehead, an English philosopher, once said “What is morality in any given time or place? It is what the majority then and there happen to like, and immorality is what they dislike.” This example is exactly what goes on in the the novel
To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee. In the book various problems occur that can only be solved by using proper judgement. Morality Is doing what is right when it is easier to do wrong. Three characters show what being moral, and what being not so moral means, Atticus Finch, Heck Tate, and Tom
From the beginning, Atticus is one of the most moral characters in the novel. He demonstrates that he does not listen to other people and follows his own rules, unlike the rest of the town who seemingly act as one. He takes on Tom Robinson’s case and puts forth a valiant effort to try to win. When Scout asks why Atticus accepted the case if he anticipated losing,
Atticus replies, “ If I didn't I couldn't hold my head up in town, I couldn't represent this county in the legislature, I couldn't even tell you or Jem not to do something again” (86). Here, it shows that Atticus knows he is doing right even though the whole town is going against him. He is empathetic for Tom, and believes he will get through to all the other people and they will share his views but it does not end up happening like he expects it too. Throughout the trial, Atticus ruins Bob Ewell’s already terrible reputation, and Bob was furious. Atticus is describing what
happened to his kids and says,
So if spitting in my face and threatening me saved Mayella Ewell one extra beating, that's something i’ll gladly take” (256). Atticus is very compassionate, willing to suffer for somebody else just to make sure they don't get hurt. He put himself in harms way just to save Mayella, and that is not something every person would do. He displays empathy for
Mayella. Only a person who understands the difference between what is right and wrong, and making the right choice when it is easier to make the wrong one would do that. A God teacher.
Tom Robinson was neither moral, nor was he not moral, he was just an regular person whos life was turned upside down when he was accused of rape by a white woman. Atticus was talking asking Tom questions he asked why Tom helped Mayella and Tom says
"Yes, suh. I felt right sorry for her, she seemed to try more'n the rest of 'em"
(248). This is a very important moment
in the trial. Racial inequality was so strong that Black people werent even supposed to feel bad for White people. When Tom told everyone that he felt bad for a White women, many people did not know how to react. Tom knew he shouldn't have said it, but he also knew it was the right thing to do. Later, Atticus was trying to explain why Tom ran for the fence, and he says
“We had such a good chance,” he said. “I told him what I thought, but I couldn’t in truth say that we had more than a good chance. I guess Tom was tired of white men’s chances and preferred to take his own”
(267). Here, Atticus is trying to justify why Tom tried to jump the fence, and in essence, commit suicide. In reality, that cannot be justified. Tom was reassured that his chances of being proven innocent were very high, but evidently, he did not believe so. His morals were absent, and he chose the easy way out instead of pulling through it. He committed suicide.
Tate is a character of average morality. He was not Atticus moral, but not Bob moral. Similar to
Tom Robinson, However he is logical. Atticus