To Kill a Mockingbird Essay

Submitted By nickibarrett
Words: 1127
Pages: 5

The novel To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is set in Alabama in the 1930s. This time period was an era when racism and segregation were prominent factors in everyday life. Atticus Finch lives with his children in the privileged part of their town, Maycomb. Their fellow white community looked down upon the colored members of their society, and thought that they were entitled to fewer rights. Atticus does not believe this, and does his best to mold his children into open minded members of the otherwise racist community. He preaches against prejudice and encourages good morals. But, his philosophy is put to the test when a black man named Tom Robinson is falsely accused of raping a white woman, and Atticus is chosen to defend him. The verdict is doomed to be guilty due to the fact that their society is deeply rooted in racism and the belief that black people do not deserve a fair trial. Despite knowing the trial would be lost; Atticus holds strong to his morals and defends Tom with all that he can. Atticus’s greatest act of courage was defending Tom Robinson in a case he knew could not be won, and genuinely putting up a fight to prove Tom’s innocence.
Throughout the novel, Atticus displays many acts of courage. But his most significant courageous deed was defending Tom Robinson. This is so because his definition of courage is “to know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what” (149). This case is doomed to fail because when any citizen commits the crime of rape, it is considered a capital offense. However, because Tom is a black American people are not willing to listen to the testimony proving his innocence, and condemn him the moment they see the color of his skin. White people believe that all black men are horrible, and the case of Tom Robinson is simply an outlet for their hatred towards the race. Since Atticus is defending Tom regardless of his heritage, Atticus and his family receive ridicule from their fellow white community. Atticus knew that he and his children would be scorned, but he stuck to his morals even when his entire town told him he was going to fail. When Scout asks Atticus if they’re “…going to win it” (101), he replies with a simple no. He accepted that he “…was licked a hundred years before [he] started” (101) because “‘…in [their] courts, when it’s a white man’s word against a black man’s, the white man always wins’” (295). Even in the case of the most despicable white family in Maycomb “…Tom Robinson was a dead man the minute Mayella Ewell opened her mouth and screamed” (323). Overall, Tom Robinson was fated to be convicted as guilty simply because of the stereotype revolving around his race. Despite apparent failure, Atticus takes on the case and does his best to uphold his reputation as someone who does not judge based on the color of a man’s skin.
Atticus selflessly puts his entirety into gathering evidence proclaiming Tom’s innocence and protecting Tom from those who wish to harm him. He displayed his courageous heroism when a lynch mob descended on the jail where Tom was being held. Atticus wanted to give Tom a fair trial, so he refused to move from the doorway, telling the mob to “turn around and go home again” (202). He put his life on the line for another, and it did not matter to him what color that other person’s skin was. Atticus’s neighbors have recognized that he is an upstanding member of society, and know that he “is the same in his house as he is on the public streets” (61). If Atticus told his children not to judge a man from the color of his skin, he would be a hypocrite if he were to defend Tom Robinson with anything less than his best effort. Atticus recognized that the “‘…boy might go to the chair, but he’s not going till the truth’s told’” (195), and he knew the truth was that Tom Robinson was innocent. He “‘…couldn’t go to church and worship God if [he] didn’t try to help that man’” (139). During the trial, Atticus constantly