What does it mean to be courageous? To many, courage is often seen as an act of physical strength or doing something scary: cliff-diving, swimming with sharks, bungee jumping... but is that what courage really is? In To Kill A Mockingbird, author Harper Lee shows a different side of courage. Acts of courage in this novel are ubiquitous - Lee has created many different characters, each playing a different role in exemplifying what it means to be brave, whether it'd be at school, in the courtroom, or even in your backyard.
Mrs. Dubose is a vicious, spiteful, judgmental woman; however, she is a prominent example of what it means to be courageous in Harper Lee's point of view. Mrs. Henry Lafayette Dubose was old and sick and was slowly dying, so she used morphine to ease her pain; soon enough, she was addicted to the drug. Although using morphine would've made her death so much more sufferable, she was determined to die free of her addiction, so that she would "leave this world beholden to nothing and nobody," (pg. 111). Mrs. Dubose showed real courage because she had to rise above and squelch the urge to abuse morphine, even though she had been relying on it for the last few years of her life. Mrs. Dubose is portrayed as an evil character, so juxtaposing the two sides of her story makes you think, and it shows you that there is good in everybody. Atticus also wanted to pass this message onto his children: "I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It's when you know you're licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but you sometimes do. Mrs. Dubose won, all ninety-eight pounds of her... she was the bravest person I ever knew." (pg. 112) It was a big step for Mrs. Dubose to take, and it definitely wasn't an easy one, but she stayed strong and proved her courage. According to Atticus, even though Mrs. Dubose may have been the weakest person physically, she was the most courageous mentally.
Another prime example of courage in the novel is Atticus Jones. He was the best lawyer Maycomb County had and he was in demand, but he still chose to defend a black man. Why? Because he was courageous. In the era this book was set in, black people were still discriminated against. "You might hear some ugly talk about it at school, but do one thing for me if you will: you just hold your head high and keep those fists down... simply because we were licked a hundred years beforewe started is no reason for us not to try to win." Despite Atticus knowing that he would be hated on and disrespected by the entire town, he still went against them and he did what he believed was right. He didn't care about the consequences; he knew that if he didn't