9 January, 2014
To Kill A Mockingbird Summative Essay: What is Courage?
“It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyways and follow through no matter what” (Lee 149). Atticus Finch spoke these words explaining to his nine year old son, Jem, what courage means. There are many courageous gestures performed throughout the novel. Gestures such as Jean-Louise Finch standing up to a gang of townspeople and Tom Robinson attempting to escape from prison. Although many acts of valor were seen throughout the novel the three most substantial were made by Mrs. Henry Lafayette Dubose, Arthur “Boo” Radley, and Atticus Finch. The novel To Kill a Mockingbird proves in many ways that with great acts of courage, comes great reward.
To begin, the first character with outstanding courage is Arthur “Boo” Radley. Radley’s immense fearlessness to emerge from solitary confinement and perform an act of great heroism was one of the qualities that differentiated him from the other characters in the novel. After Atticus’ defense against Bob and Mayella Ewell, Bob swore to have his revenge. After Bob Ewell attempted to murder Atticus’ children, a surprise hero came to the rescue and killed Ewell. This hero was Boo Radley. Directly following, Heck Tate describes to Atticus Boo’s courage. The quote is as follows, “I never heard tell that it’s against the law for a citizen to do his utmost to prevent a crime from being committed, which is exactly what [Boo] did” (369). The thing that makes Boo Radley so courageous is that he had not been seen in a very long time. Not only did Boo emerge for the first time in years but he threw himself between a murderer and an innocent child. After Scout gains knowledge of this she realizes Boo was the person who had been giving her gifts (e.g. chewing gum, medals, etc.). This gesture of gift giving alone was extremely brave because Boo was betraying his brother Nathan Radley, who was thought to have been keeping Boo locked away. He risked his life to save two people who, although he knew, had never spoken to before. This was truly a tremendous act of courage and bravery. His reward for this courage was love and friendship. Two things he was not too familiar with due to his circumstances. For assumably the first time since he had disappeared, someone gave Boo companionship. Even though this friendship only physically lasted for one night love and companionship are greater than any tangible gift one can receive and the memory would last forever. In conclusion, Boo Radley showed courage by putting his life at stake for others and in return was granted with a greatly deserved reward, friendship.
The second character who displayed immense courage is Mrs. Henry Lafayette Dubose. Few characters in the book knew of Dubose’s outstanding bravery. One was Atticus Finch. Atticus spoke, “You rarely win, but sometimes you do. Mrs. Dubose won, all ninety-eight pounds of her. According to her views, she died beholden to nothing and nobody. She was the bravest person I ever knew” (149). Although Dubose maintains a cruel, harsh exterior throughout the novel she had the strength and bravery to overcome and conquer many obstacles. For example, Mrs. Dubose was prisoner to her morphine addiction. She had not been fully conscious for years and had one goal that she wished to achieve before her time came to die. This was to pass away with full consciousness and be free from any baggage. With the help of Jem Finch and a few others she was able to fight until her last breath and was finally liberated just before she lost her life. Those who were acquainted with Dubose saw her as bitter, rude, and cantankerous. Most however, were unaware of the struggles she was facing. This is just one example that proves her courage. Dubose handled her addiction so well that no one was aware of it other than those who were previously informed. She had been on her death bed for a substantial amount of…