Life Values In To Kill A Mockingbird

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The novel To Kill a Mockingbird reflects life values and lessons to a great extent through the character Atticus Finch. It is said of Atticus that ‘whether Maycomb knows it or not, we’re paying him the highest tribute we can pay a man. We trust him to do it right.’ And it is with Atticus’ moral integrity he teaches his children through the themes of good and evil, prejudice, and courage.

A prevailing theme in the novel is racism, and within this, Jem and Scout learn a lot from their father. Lee explores the theme of racism through the Tom Robinson court case, where Tom is convicted because it is a white woman’s word against that of a black man. Early on in the novel Atticus tells the children ‘shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit
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Towards the beginning of the novel, the children have a fixed idea as to what courage is. Courage is Atticus Finch picking up a gun and shooting a rabid dog. Lee challenges this misunderstood idea through the juxtaposition of Atticus shooting the dog and Mrs Dubose’s decision to die free of her morphine addiction. It is after this that Atticus tells the children ‘courage is not a man with a gun in his hand’ and the children are forced to reconcile this new kind of courage with their old ideas of physical courage. Harper Lee challenges these ideas of courage again when Atticus takes on a court case he is destined to lose. A black man’s word against a white man’s, Atticus has no hope. He foreshadows this to his children after the death of Mrs Dubose when he tells them that courage is ‘when you know you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what.’ Atticus’ courage here is his moral courage, the courage to stand by your own principles when no one else agrees. It is in the quote above we see that Atticus’ courage and strength of character are what made him an ideal candidate to defend Tom Robinson and why exactly Maycomb ‘trusts him to do it right’. This strength of character is taught to the children early on, as Atticus asks them to rise above the abuse people will hurl at Scout and Jem during the court case. It’s a startling realisation for the …show more content…
Harper Lee uses the themes of her novel to teach invaluable life lessons to both her characters and readers. Such lessons still prove useful in today’s society where racism is ongoing and seriously harmful, and people are still looking for the courage and overall goodness to stand up against

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