Everyday Heroes, On To Kill A Mockinbird Essay, Research Paper
What kind of reasons would inspire someone to give up their time, talent, and treasure for another individual hardly known to them? Why would anyone risk his or her occupation, social standing, and prestige, to stand up for a single moral belief in justice? This value of individualism is extremely rare in society. Harper Lee’s novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, paints a very real picture of this value in the character Atticus Finch. Atticus relinquishes his basic need to care for himself. He decides not to live comfortably, but rather breaks his comfort zone, and thinks about others quality of life. He makes the decision to try to change his county, in respect to the value they see in others. It takes a person with strength, stamina, courage, and most importantly character, to stand up alone against culture, and mend an injustice.
Atticus holds his position as the public condemns his righteous ideas of change, and people begin to admire his will power. They finally begin to admit to themselves that their consciences agree with him. The populace shows its unrest as they see he will take up the case in the quote, “Yea but Atticus aims to defend him that’s what I don’t like about it” (163). His town is used to the common defense lawyers taking the cases of defending Negroes, and putting on a sham trial. Therefore, when a champion of human rights like Atticus actually does his job, he is looked upon with scorn. They are so used to the accepted ways of everyday life, that no lawyer would dare go against them all, and risk his whole life, to right an inequity in his heart. Atticus’ deep want of fairness, and equal rights for all is greatly presented in the quotation, “Atticus voice dropped and as he turned away from the jury, he said something I didn’t catch. He said it more to himself than to the court. I punched Jem, what’d he say? He said, in the name of god believe him” (206). Atticus puts forth his greatest effort in the Robinson case, utilizing all the evidence, brains, and witnesses that he can. He stands true to his morals and delivers the most pivotal case of his career, showing infallibly the verdict of not guilty. However, the decision is not in the hands of citizens who are defenders of human rights, but people who are partial to their own agendas of prejudice. He wants to just reach out to one person in the jury, change their own selfish ways of thinking and turn their thoughts to others. All he wants is for them to let go of the prejudice they hold and become lovers of values, and basic ethics. A final quote showing the black communities unwavering support for his actions is, “I looked around they were all standing. All around us and in the balcony on the opposite wall the Negroes were getting to their feet” (211). This gives Atticus the moral support he needs to be a kind of hero in his own way. Their standing symbolizes standing up for justice, and Atticus’ stand for humanity and his position against social discrimination. This makes Atticus’ visualization of a community with equal rights for all count for more than a case; it has change people whole ideas about life, and begins to influence a whole cultural shift toward racial equality.
In the midst of a guilty verdict, and despite his feeling of defeat, Atticus never holds back. In addition, although ultimately the trial is over, he never stops his campaigning for balancing racial rights. He knows he has and can continue changing people’s minds, and show them the truth. This change in peoples thinking is portrayed in Harper’s quote, “I mean this town, they’re perfectly willing to let him do what they’re too afraid to themselves. They might lose a nickel” (236). The citizens of Maycomb want Atticus to do all their work for them, so they can feel better about themselves. They look to him for the morals in their county because they are too afraid to jeopardize their own selfish lives. They are perfectly willing to fulfill their own insecurities about justice being served through Atticus. Atticus spirit of never giving up is displayed well in the quote, “It’s not time to worry yet Atticus assured him as we went to the dining room. We’re not through yet. They’ll be an appeal, you can count on that” (213). Atticus will not stop his one-man crusade until he makes people see the world differently. He pursues his quest not just for Tom, but for the cause that others too may have justice, not only in his lifetime but also in the future. Atticus is slowly breaking down people’s barriers, but it takes a lot of work and is very taxing on one person going it alone. A quote that illustrates Atticus’ character and how the community views him is, “Have you ever thought about it this way Alexandria? Whether Maycomb knows it or not were paying the highest tribute we can pay a man we trust him to do right” (236). The town of Maycomb, in its own way acknowledges what Atticus is doing, but is too afraid to lend him its wholehearted support. Its is scared to support his cause openly, but agrees with him and admires him greatly. Atticus is Maycomb’s hero, because he is a true sportsman. Even as he is faced with imminent defeat, he starts a wave of cultural shift from prejudice to tolerance.
The children have been imprinted with Atticus’ values and morals, and mirror him by taking up his just fight in their own small ways. Jem shows his qualms about the injustice being committed in the quote, “Jem was shaking his head I know it’s not right, but I can’t figure out what’s wrong” (219). Jem is utterly confused by the atrocities he has seen committed in court, and cant figure out why what happened did. Here he shows his innocence and blindness to the evilness of adult ways. However, noticing these evils, he is losing his childhood innocence, and simplicity of youth. The children’s want for justice is unfolded in the quote, “”You think they’ll acquit him that fast?” asked Jem. Atticus opened his mouth to answer, but shut it and left us” (207). The children are still unaware of the goings on of adulthood, and Atticus would rather have them find the injustices out for themselves. The lessons of the trial and surrounding incidents are quickly rushing the children into adulthood, and the values Atticus has instilled in them are coming out. Atticus knows the verdict, but will not break it to his children because inside, he is still hoping that the jurors will do justice too. Jem’s reflection of Atticus’ character traits is exemplified in the quote, “No sir, they oughta do away with juries. He wasn’t guilty in the first place and they said he was” (220). Jem admires his father and cant figure out why society convicted an innocent man. His faith in the social system to do right is crushed, as the system does a grave injustice that even a child can see. His childhood is slowly slipping away, with each incident he experiences. He is growing much more adult. Whether for better or worse, he sees adult society for what it is, unequal and prejudiced. As the children grow, they advance into people who want to be more like their father, the more they see his character, the more they can only hope to amount to what he was, a true hero.
In this story, the people of Maycomb County were too wrapped up in themselves to see the grave infringements on human rights they were committing. It took Atticus Finch to help them see the error of their ways, and change their whole thought process on prejudice, even if they did not show it. It is very rare for culture to produce fighters of the system like Atticus Finch. These people will walk the road of justice alone if need be. However, when culture does produce them, these heroes open our selfish eyes, pull back the curtains of hate, evil and injustice, and revolutionize culture. There are Atticus’ all around in today’s society. Some modern day Finches include: Mother Teresa, and her crusade to stop hunger and sickness in India, Gandhi, and his peace efforts with replacing violence with negotiation, or Pope John II, who forgave the very person who tried to kill him for standing up for what he feels is right. Even everyday people who step up against a wrong can take on Atticus’ attributes. When a person relinquishes their base desires to be self-centered and partial, they too can begin to care about others, and possess some of Atticus’ morality and decency toward all mankind.