How Is Atticus A Moral Hero In To Kill A Mockingbird

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Harper Lee’s novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, explores the role of heroes in unjust societies. The community of Maycomb, Alabama, the novel’s setting, is unjust, with inherent prejudice against many in the society. However, the character of Atticus Finch shows great heroism and fights the injustice that is prevalent throughout Maycomb, chiefly by electing to defend Tom Robinson, a black man falsely accused of raping a white woman. Atticus Finch deserves distinction as the greatest moral hero of all time. He demonstrates heroism by his willingness to oppose tradition and institutionalized racism. Atticus shows his heroism through the high value he places on justice and compassion. Throughout the novel, he reminds his children, Scout, the main character, …show more content…
Atticus believes racism is ignorant and hateful. This is shown during Tom Robinson’s trial when Atticus, while addressing the jury, criticizes Bob and Mayella Ewell for, “the assumption - the evil assumption - that all Negroes lie, that all Negroes are basically immoral beings, that all are not to be trusted around our women, an assumption one associates with minds of [the Ewell’s] caliber.” (Lee 204) Atticus associates racial prejudice with wickedness and stupidity. To Atticus, Bob Ewell’s racial prejudice, as well as racism in general, is immoral and ignorant. Atticus, in contrast to many other characters in the novel, does not accept the institutionalized racism that is entrenched into Maycombian society. Instead, he fights racial prejudice because he views it as fundamentally flawed and stemming from a lack of empathy and understanding for those outside one’s social group. Furthermore, Atticus’ emotional investment in Tom Robinson’s case shows the personal level on which racism affects him. When discussing with Scout why he was defending Tom Robinson, Atticus explained, “… every lawyer gets a case at least once in his life that affects him personally. This one’s mine, I guess.” (Lee 76) Atticus’ emotional anguish over the case and his empathy for Tom shows that Atticus disagrees with racism, not only for moral and ideological reasons, but because racism emotionally affects him. Atticus feels …show more content…
One example is Atticus’ views on Adolf Hitler. It is clear that Atticus strongly disagrees with Hitler’s beliefs. This is evident when Scout notes, “The only time I ever saw Atticus scowl was when Elmer Davis gave the latest on Hitler.” (Lee 246) However, when asked by Scout if one should hate Hitler because of his actions, Atticus responds, “It is not… it’s not okay to hate anybody.” (Lee 246) While Atticus may not agree with Hitler, he does not hate him. To Atticus, Hitler is still human and worthy of empathy. Atticus has consciously decided not be hateful of a man as vicious as Hitler. This shows that Atticus recognizes the humanity of even the most immoral and evil men. Another example of Atticus’ compassion is his reaction to Walter Cunningham’s presence in the mob that tries to lynch Tom Robinson. After Scout and Jem decry Mr. Cunningham for his participation in the racially charged attempted lynching, Atticus replies, “Mr. Cunningham’s basically a good man… he just has his blind spots like the rest of us.” (Lee 165) Atticus does not believe that Mr. Cunningham’s racial beliefs make him an evil or immoral man. Instead, he recognizes that human morality is complex and that one’s surroundings and upbringing can stifle or misguide one’s moral convictions. This shows that Atticus tries to understand the lives of individuals who perpetrate injustice and chooses to view

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