To Kill A Mockingbird Critical Analyze: Meaning of Courage

Feb 18, 2016

Hi everyone, this is the normal mode of Honest Book Spoiler.

Sorry for the delay of Divergent's spoiler this month, you'll see it at 27 Feb 2016.

If you have ever read the novel To Kill A Mockingbird from Harper Lee, you shall know that one of the core ideas in the book is "courage and bravery" and today we'll talk about this.


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The Meaning of Courage
In To Kill a Mockingbird and Real Life

The term courage and bravery could be seen in many places, such as emergency situations, decision making, and lots more, everyday life.

So, what is courage? What is its true meaning?

The definition of the word “courage” in the dictionary is “the ability to do something that frightens one”, or the “strength in the face of pain or grief”. Mostly in this argument, it’s focused on the first definition.

This also presents in the novel by Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird. Actually, it seems that Lee was talking about race and prejudice problems in the novel, but she also pointed out about courage and bravery, the motif that links to the main problems and the motif played a big role though the entire book. It’s one of the core ideas and also presents inside many examples and events throughout the novel.

These examples in the book could be classified as two different types: Some of them has the factor of courage and bravery inside them and some are just counterexamples, which does not.

A typical event that represents courage and bravery could be when Mr. Ewell and others want to lynch Tom Robinson, Atticus stood out and protected him. This event could show that Atticus is brave because at the time period the TKAM is in, most whites hate blacks and they would always lynch them and Atticus could go against this tradition and help Tom Robinson, and this shows his courage from his action.

Another powerful example is Link Deas, Tom Robinson’s employer, also provided a job to Helen after Tom’s death. At that time, most women doesn’t have any job because most people thinks that “woman shouldn’t have job when men doesn’t (quote in the Great Depression).” Especially African American women because of their race. Even though Helen doesn’t really need his help, he still gave her a job to take over Tom’s place. Also, if this can’t proof that Link Deas is brave, then this could be the other reason it say so:

Helen didn’t dare to walk on the main street cause Ewell makes her uncomfortable and he will look down on her. At this time, Link Deas stood out and gave Ewell a “lesson” and that he did respect Helen somehow after that, even nearly all the readers could probably see that Ewell was forced to do it instead of really willing to.

Those two above are both the examples for bravery, and there’re also several examples for which are not. The best one for this is when Scout beat up Walter Cunningham and then insulted him during dinner: “Catching Walter Cunningham in the schoolyard gave me some pleasure, but when I was rubbing his nose in the dirt Jem came by and told me to stop. ‘You’re bigger’ n he is,’ He said. (Page 30)” She did this because Walter embarrassed her in front of the whole class and got punished from Miss Caroline Fisher, but as she could solve this problem calmly between them, she beat up Walter in front of the entire school while in the end she turned bullying him. Even Walter is the one who started the conflict first, she shouldn’t have use this method so that this isn’t the representative of courage and bravery.

The one which is debatable in the book, whether brave or not, is Tom Robinson’s jail breaking and death. It could be seen as he is brave because he is willing to give up his life to justice and his family, but could also be seen as not brave because he died by reckless actions while he had a chance to be alive, that is stay in the jail and wait till Atticus to get him out. This is more likely that he is not brave because no one saw what happened, so that he will have another charge of breaking jail, and no one could prove that he is sinless as soon as he’s dead. But during the debate another possibility was revealed, that maybe the guards lynched Tom Robinson and faked his breaking and way of die. But since Lee didn’t give an explanation, it could keep being either one of the two.

So back to the topic, what is the meaning of courage, in both of the book and also real life? The answer will be break some of the old habits and maybe some socially formed prejudice and bias, try to help the ones in need with a nonviolent way and do your best, and directly face your fear, sustain the pressure from the society as you believe you’re doing something right, and maybe something else, as everyone’s get a different answer from the same things, but those adding up, is the true meaning of courage.


Thank for reading. Next time if you read a Honest Book/ Movie Spoiler/ Talk, please leave a comment under it so that at least I know someone had read it or I won't update as fast as usual.


A very interesting analysis

Submitted by MarenH2 on Thu, 2016-02-18 13:15.

A very interesting analysis over courage and how it is demonstrated in To Kill A Mockingbird. You brought up some points I didn't think about. I like that you pointed out that some debatable points.


Submitted by Cec on Fri, 2016-02-19 12:06.

When we first brought this point up, it was a quick and simple check for examples, you here have taken our work and expanded on it, and looked for more details


Submitted by The Movie Destroyer on Fri, 2016-02-19 12:18.

Greetings plz check out our Honest Book/ Movie Spoilers/ Talks. Remember to leave a comment there

Critical analysis comment

Submitted by Adam447 on Fri, 2016-02-19 12:58.

I like how you created a discussion about if Tom Robinson was considered brave or not. You also explained the definition of brave and gave good examples of braveness.