It is often said how important courage is and how impactful it is. However, most do not really take in how important courage can be. Those that do not have such courage will never succeed and surpass their greatest obstacles. “Cowards die many times before their deaths; the valiant never taste of death but once.” -William Shakespeare. Those who never take the lead and have the taste of victory and lurk in the safety of defeat will suffer much more humility than those who take the risk of victory and greatness. Another way of saying such a thing is if you don’t have the courage, the bravery, the valor, to do something you fear and despise, you will never achieve your dreams, your goals, and your wishes. In the novel To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper E. Lee conveys courage through showing how the characters face their fears and responsibilities and look them straight in the face, which is what is necessary to succeed and move on.
An idea Lee omits in her novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, is that courage is proven and shown throughout many instances in the book, including sad ones, and also commemorable ones. These instances of courage can be shown throughout all of the characters, and have been fused and combined with such diction and conflicts that it can seem like real life. The way Lee describes the story shows how much she values courage as something that is necessary for all human beings to have. An example of such conflict and courage is when Atticus is actually standing in front of the jail cell to protect Tom Robinson. During this time, Atticus was willing to even protect the life of Tom with his own, shown by his words when he says, “‘You can turn around and go home again, Walter,’ Atticus said pleasantly. ‘Heck Tate’s around somewhere.’” (153). This shows the courage of Atticus through the words that he had spoken, and how he had chosen to stay at the jailhouse and guard Tom even though he already knew that the lynch crew was coming to kill Tom. This courage is important to not only the storyline of the book but also an indirect tie to the real world. Policemen, guards, and officers are all risking their lives and displaying real acts of courage by guarding dangerous locations and cells. In fact, we are always taking such acts of courage for granted and not giving them the respect they deserve for doing such courageous things. Through courage can everything be linked together. Another point of evidence that shows courage is when Scout tries to protect Jem from the lynch mob, even though they all were adults, all easily towering over her. Such an act of courage and characterization can be shown with the quote, “Barefooted, I was surprised to see him fall back in real pain. I intended to kick his shin, but aimed too high.” (154). This example from the text shows how courageous Scout is as a character, and how she is willing to do whatever she can do to protect and help Jem, even if it means getting hurt. This act of courage is also carving out the stubbornness and displays who Scout really is as a character. The reason for Lee showing courage is not only a form of her indirectly telling you how important courage is, but also to teach you what courage can help you do, and what it is used for in the general scope of life.
There are even more instances of courage, portrayed again through conflict, and also characterization. A way that courage can be portrayed is through characterization, showing how courageous a character is by describing how they act and the decisions they make. Something to note that Lee actually infers is how the characters in the story all show courage. In their own unique ways, their courage allows them all to get things done. A prime example of courage is when Scout challenges Jem to grab the tire that they had left behind on Boo’s front steps. Jem and Scout had just left the house and had realized that they had left the tire there. Scout is too scared to go, so she teases Jem to force him to go instead. You can tell how Jem is scared of going to the house when Scout mentions, “Jem looked at me furiously, could not decline, ran down the sidewalk, treaded water at the gate, then dashed in and retrieved the tire.” (39). However, because of the courage that Jem has, he is able to go back to the house. One can relate this with courage because of the acts that Jem had displayed and how he accepted his fears and looked at it right in the face.
Without courage, being able to accomplish one’s tasks will be impossible. Shown by characterization, Jem as a character is hot-headed and bold, but also courageous in the way he acts. Because of how courageous Jem is as a young child, he is able to accomplish his goals and do what he wants to do. Another piece of information that showcases courage is when Jem actually risks his life to save Scout. When Jem and Scout are walking in the dark, they hear the footsteps of Bob Ewell running towards them in an attempt to murder them. Jem actually risks his life to try to save Scout from Mr. Ewell. If not for this act of courage, Scout would have been killed at that moment. The following quote can show what had happened to Scout before she was saved by Jem. “I could not move. Suddenly he was jerked backwards and flung on the ground, almost carrying me with him.” (266). The reason this quote show so much courage is that Jem could have actually just left Scout there and ran to save his own life. However, with the courage that Jem had as a character, he actually stayed and protected Scout, against all of the odds and risked his life for it. Luckily, Boo Radley had also come to save the two brave and courageous children.
This can easily show an external conflict in the fact of the skirmish between Jem, Scout, Boo, and Mr. Ewell. What Lee is trying to tell us here is that by stepping up and being courageous, one can potentially save many things that one will regret not standing up for, and potentially even save lives. When comparing this to real life, it may seem surprising to see that the same thing happens almost every day in some place around the world. People that risk their lives for your safety and comfort are out there working every day. Some examples of such people are policemen, firefighters, the army, etc. The point is that courage is something that one sees every day, and should be something that one should also display. After seeing all of these brave men and women risk their lives to provide for you each day, that should influence you to be a more courageous person. The reason Lee has developed this idea of courage is to get you to understand how important these people risking their lives are to us, and to show us how people with courage are clearly more influential, helpful, and productive than people who are not.
The big theme/idea that has been developed multiple times throughout the book is courage, one of the most important things to have with you. Without it, you wouldn’t be able to do anything, not even wake up in the morning. It takes real courage to just get up in the morning and face your worries and challenges that occur daily. Because there are so many of these challenges and worries that stress us out every single day, sometimes we just don’t realize the huge impact that courage has on our everyday lives. “Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.” -Michelangelo. This inspirational quote from Michelangelo, a famous Renaissance, shows us that to finish our tasks, one must have the courage to actually attempt to discover a way to complete them.