To Kill A Mocking Bird – Courage
The film, To Kill A Mockingbird, is based on courage. Other issues are confronted in this text, prejudice and racism for example. But I think that the main subject dealt with is courage. Courage is about stepping out of your comfort zone, not always complying with others, doing what you believe in. Most characters in the film display this trait, but there are others who blatantly display the opposite.
Atticus Finch is a defense lawyer living in the small southern town of Maycomb. He shows courage by taking the case of a condemned black man who has been accused of raping a white girl. He knows that his actions will not be kindly looked upon by the townspeople, but he believes in justice for all so he does what he feels is right. Tom Robinson, his client, is to spend a night in jail. Although he doesnt have to, Atticus stays outside all night to guard him. He is confronted by an angry mob and stands his ground. He also doesnt back off when the encounters the victims father, Mr. Ewell who abuses him.
He is not afraid to tell the truth to his two young children. He doesnt try and misguide them by making up lies to get out of tricky situations. He brings them up to have their own opinions and to see people equally.
Jem and Scout Finch show courage due to their unbiased upbringing. Jem, the elder of the children is ten years old. When his father is faced with the mob at the jail, Jem turns up. And although being a child and being pretty much powerless to physically do anything, he refuses to leave until after the crowd has left. He shows that he is not scared of one of their ill-reputed neighbours, by accepting a dare from his friends to run up to their porch. He does all he can to protect his younger sister Scout when they are attacked in the woods. Scout on the other hand, stands up for herself by fighting her classmates. One particular time she does this is when she hears someone bad mouthing her father.
In comparison, Bob Ewell is not courageous. He takes a black man to court on a lie rather than admit that his daughter was in the wrong. He takes advantage of the fact that the whole town is prejudiced and impressionable and gets them all on his side. He conveniently blames his actions on an innocent Negro, who he then stands by and watches die without a worry in the world. He tries to look courageous by confronting Atticus who he knows is never going to fight back. He also makes threats towards and in the end attacks the Finch children. In reality, Bob is a weak man who is prepared to go with the majority rather than stop and think for himself.
His daughter Mayella is put on the stand and doesnt have the courage to tell the truth. She reels off a story that has been concocted by Bob to cover himself. If she had have told the truth, she risked social isolation but I think she was more afraid of her father and what she faced if she disobeyed him.
Tom Robinson, the man on trial, tells the story as it happened even though he knows that he doesnt stand a chance. After court, when he is taken away by the police, he is shot in the back while running away. Maybe his running was one final act of courage. Maybe he knew that being black, he could never truly live in peace, never truly be free.
The sheriff of the town, Heck Tate, skips town the night that Tom is in jail. He knows that there will be a disturbance. He knows that he will cave in to the mob. Society relies on him to uphold justice, and he willingly accepts the story of a dishonest man in the court of law, the law that he is supposed to be enforcing. He doesnt conduct any type of investigation into the case because he knows what he will find and doesnt want to deal with that discovery because he is scared. Scared of the community, scared of the consequences of going against general beliefs.
One final character that shows courage is Boo Radley. Shunned by the town for keeping to himself, his true personality is hidden beneath the stories made up for his choice to be solitary. The night that Ewell attacks the children, he fights him off and eventually stabs him. Radley knows that the town will be better off without this madman.
The film is about what happens when people have no opinion of their own, when they go with the general consensus and show no courage in being an individual. If Bob Ewell or the jury or the sheriff had have shown courage, the death of an innocent man could have been prevented. Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups