Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird: Character Analysis
“Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit ‘em, but remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird….“Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. They don’t eat up people’s gardens, don’t nest in corncribs, they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird” (90). Harper Lee uses the mockingbird to communicate her theme of the defense of the innocent. In Harper Lee’s, To Kill a Mockingbird, it is evident that in the small town of Maycomb, racial intolerance and gossip impairs the community’s good judgments. She shows that, Arthur “Boo” Radley, Atticus Finch, and Tom Robinson do no harm; their only crime is singing their hearts out for what they believe in.
In order to understand why Arthur “Boo” Radley is a mockingbird, it is crucial to recognize how he silently watches Jem and Scout. He resembles a mockingbird because of his natural desire to please the children with the gifts he puts in the tree and his tender compassion for them when they stand outside shivering in the cold watching Miss Maudie’s fire. When Sheriff Tate is determined to report that Mr. Ewell fell on the knife, it showed that he does not believe that either Jem or “Boo” Radley should face an inquiry about whether one killed Bob Ewell. Initially, Atticus resists Sheriff Tate’s conclusion; however, as he listens to Sheriff Tate his mind is changed, “…To my way of thinkin’, Mr. Finch, taking the one man who’s done you and this town a great service an‘ draggin’ him with his shy ways into the limelight—to me, that’s a sin. It’s a sin and I’m not about to have it on my head” (275). Scout goes on to say “Well, it’d be sort of like shootin‘ a mockingbird, wouldn’t it?” (276) This assertion implies that, like killing a mockingbird, arresting Boo would serve no useful purpose, and harm someone who never meant anyone any harm. But in chapter 10 when Atticus shoots the dog, it was okay because the dog was dangerous. Furthermore, the night Boo Radley saves their lives, Jem and Scout hear a mockingbird in the Radley’s yard, “High above us in the darkness a solitary mocker poured out his repertoire in blissful unawareness of whose tree he sat in, plunging from the shrill kee, kee of the sunflower bird to the irascible qua-ack of a bluejay, to the sad lament of Poor Will, Poor Will, Poor Will”(254-255). Jem and Scout noticing that Boo was not home foreshadowed what was going to happen in the chapter. Harper Lee is trying to show that Boo is a prime example of a mockingbird in the novel but putting an actual mockingbird in Boo’s yard. Boo Radley pours out his songs of joy or sympathy in a kind of blissful unawareness of the consequences.
Part of being a mockingbird demands a person that articulates the concept of it being a sin to kill a mockingbird. Atticus Finch and his family were subjected to anger without having done anything wrong. When Atticus was explaining his reasoning for taking on this stressful case he emphasized,” ‘The main one is, if I didn’t I couldn’t hold up my head in town, I couldn’t represent this county in the legislature…. Scout, simply by the nature of the work, every lawyer gets at least one case in his lifetime that affects him personally” (75). Atticus chooses the moral right above all else and leads his life to set an example for his kids. Once racial prejudice clouds a person’s mind it quickly becomes impossible for that person to resemble a true mockingbird. That is why Atticus knows he must try to protect the innocent of whatever kind because if he does not, he may lose the spirit of the mockingbird that lives in him. Atticus is one of few characters in the novel who is racially tolerant, so he wants his kids to understand that, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view – until you climb into his skin and walk around in it” (30). This quote shows Atticus giving Scout the crucial piece of moral advice that governs her development for the rest of the novel. The simple wisdom of Atticus’s words reflects the uncomplicated manner in which he guides himself by this sole principle. His ability to relate to his children is manifested in his restatement of this principle in terms that Scout can understand, “climb into his skin and walk around in it”. Scout struggles, with varying degrees of success, to put Atticus’s advice into practice and to live with sympathy and understanding toward others. At the end of the book, she succeeds in comprehending Boo Radley’s perspective, fulfilling Atticus’s advice in Chapter 3 and providing the novel with an optimistic ending despite the considerable darkness of the plot. Atticus succeeds in demonstrating both the innocence of his client and the peculiar sickness of the Jim Crow society. He is almost like a mother mockingbird, defending its chicks.
Another character in To Kill a Mockingbird who resembles a mockingbird is Tom Robinson. As a black man in a time of prejudice, Tom had been shunned by society his whole life. Scout, thinking about Mr. Underwood’s editorial about the death of Tom Robinson, thought,” Mr. Underwood didn’t talk about miscarriages of justice, he was writing so children could understand. Mr. Underwood simply figured it was a sin to kill cripples, be they standing, sitting, or escaping. He likened Tom’s death to the senseless slaughter of songbirds by hunters and children…”(241). Tom’s good character and total innocence make him resemble the harmless songbird. Not understanding that his best chance remains to bide his time and failing to grasp anything other than his crushing desire to escape, Tom seems like a frantic, caged songbird. Tom Robinson was always willing to help Mayella, and when he was explaining why he would assist her, he made a vital mistake. He replied,”Yes, suh. I felt right sorry for her, she seemed to try more’n the rest of ‘em” (197). In those times blacks were not allowed to feel sorry for a white person. The lawyer treated him very unfairly during his interrogation, calling him boy the whole time. All Tom wanted to do was help, just like a mockingbird singing, and yet because of the color of his skin he was ridiculed for it.
Like innocent mockingbirds, Atticus Finch, Boo Radley, and Tom Robinson were all persecuted by society yet had done nothing wrong.
To Kill a Mockingbird: the Analysis of a True Lawyer and a Worthy Person
In Harper Lee’s novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, Atticus Finch plays a crucial role in the development of the story by acting as its moral backbone. He is always looked to for his infinite wisdom and to always do what is right. To Kill a Mockingbird is a story set in the racially biased 1930s. Atticus Finch is a lawyer and single father of two who tries to defend innocent Tom Robinson from the evil of mankind while also raising his kids based on the lessons he has learned throughout his life and in the court.
Atticus Finch acts as the moral backbone by always giving others his best advice and by trying to direct everyone that looks up to him in the best direction possible. Atticus, while giving advice to his son, Jem, said, “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” (Lee 149). Atticus explains to Jem that Ms. Dubose was the most courageous and brave person he knew. Jem had to read to her every day after school and on Saturdays as punishment for destroying her flowers in a fit of rage after she insulted his Father while he walked by. Little did he know, though, that him reading to her every day was helping her overcome her morphine addiction. Atticus teaches his kids the way that he would an adult, and by doing so, they have the mentalities of people far older than themselves.
Attics’ teachings with his children give them a black and white perception of the world, rather than the embellished version that most children see. His advice to his children about courage and perseverance impacts them by showing them that courage lies in odd places and that they will need it in order to survive in the cruel world. Another time Atticus gave great advice was when he told his children that, “You never really understand a person until you understand things from their point of view until you climb into his skin and walk around in it” . Atticus gives Scout crucial advice to understanding the world and taking on different perspectives here. Without the ability to place yourself in someone else’s shoes, one truly does not understand someone else. Atticus tells Scout this so that she can better understand the Cunningham’s, more specifically Walter. All throughout the story, Atticus gives Scout and Jem advice to help them become familiar with the world, and to act better in it. Rather than scolding and punishing them, he chooses to lead them with advice, too. Most parents would punish their children for wrongdoing and hope that it would teach them a lesson, but rather than doing this, Atticus teaches Jem and Scout lessons through wisdom rather than consequences.
Atticus acts as the novel’s moral backbone because his profession as a lawyer translates into his daily life. Jem, while discussing Ms. Dubose’s request of him after destroying her flower beds with his father, Atticus, said, “She wants me to come every afternoon after school and Saturdays and read to her out loud for two hours. Atticus, do I have to?”, and rather than giving him what he wanted to hear, Atticus replied, “Certainly”. Jem, begging, said, “But she wants me to do it for a month,”, and Atticus once more replied, “Then you’ll do it for a month” . Here, Atticus translates his knowledge from the court of law into his life and his teachings with his children. Jem obviously does not want to go to her house every day and read to her, so he begs pardon from his father who instead follows through with it rather than cutting his son some slack. While parenting, many parents are faced with tough decisions about cutting slack with their children, but Atticus prefers to bring his kids up knowing that every action they do has its consequences.
Jem was guilty for destroying the flower beds, and admitted to it when his father confronted him about it, so Atticus, being the lawyer he is, knew the only thing that was right was for Jem to do was exactly what Ms. Dubose asked of him, and it just so happened to be something that he very much disliked- reading. Atticus displayed how lawyering had impacted him another time by saying, “but there is one way in this country in which all men are created equal That institution, gentlemen, is a court and in our courts all men are created equal” . Atticus has a strong background morally not only because he is a lawyer, but because every drop of him believes in his work. Atticus wholeheartedly believes in the fair and equal treatment of all, as displayed in the Robinson v. Ewell court case. There aren’t many things more painful than misjustice and prejudice to Atticus. He is a strong believer in doing what is right, despite any circumstances that would beg for bias, and regardless of race, religion, etc. Equality, fairness, and discipline have all been burnt into Atticus’ mind from his many years lawyering. His job has brought him up with the best morals- the very morals that are used to try hundreds of people every day to this very day. The lessons Atticus learned were learned from the holy grail thereof- the court. The court cannot lie, the court cannot be biased, and the court cannot treat people unequally, and that is why Atticus cannot either.
All throughout, To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee, Atticus Finch acts as the moral backbone by imposing his strong belief of doing what is right as well as his wisdom on the world around him. All of those who know Atticus, whether it be his own children, or people from around Maycomb, know that Atticus always does right. Atticus is able to tackle any problem, and people respect him for that. The lessons that Atticus had learned throughout his life have sculpted him into a symbol of equality, fairness, and intelligence throughout not only the court, but Maycomb county and Alabama as a whole.
The Courage of Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
“Every lawyer gets at least one case in his lifetime that affects him personally. This one’s mine, I guess.” To Kill A Mockingbird, an award winning book by Harper Lee is about Atticus Finch, a lawyer in Maycomb, Alabama trying to defend Tom Robinson. Tom, who was accused of rape by a white woman named Mayella Ewell in the 20th century is having great difficulty in winning the case. Atticus Finch is showing great courage and confidence when he decides to help Tom Robinson with his case.
Atticus is defending Tom because he values equality and justice. He believes that everyone is equal and therefore just because Tom Robinson is black, does not mean that he should not defend him. Before the trial, Atticus states, “Simply because we were licked a hundred years before we started is no reason not to try to win.” Atticus is pointing out that simply because ingrained racism will probably lose them the trial, does not mean they can not do the right thing to fight for justice anyway.
Another reason why Atticus defended Tom because he wanted Jem, his son to look up to him and keep his respect for his dad. Atticus states, “Before Jem looks at anyone else, he looks at me. I’ve tried to live so I can look squarely back at him… If I connived at something like this, frankly, I couldn’t meet his eye, and the day I can’t do that I’ll have lost him. If Atticus didn’t defend Tom, Jem would no longer have respect for his father and he wouldn’t be able to look at him in the same way.
Even though Atticus showed courage in helping Tom, people could not take a black person’s word over a white’s. It was extremely hard for the court to take Tom Robinson’s story for the truth. Atticus’ neighbor states, “… don’t see why you touched it in the first place… You’ve got everything to lose from this Atticus. I mean everything.” He is stating that Atticus has no chance in winning the case because Tom is black. Even though his neighbors didn’t support him helping Tom, he knew that it was the right thing to do.
Atticus showed great courage in doing the right thing by defending Tom because he believed everyone should be treated equally and he wanted to keep the respect of his son. Since Atticus values equality and justice, he still had the courage to defend a black man in court even if he knew that it wasn’t going to go their way. In reading the book, the reader sees how people should always be treated equally no matter the outcome and the difficulty for a black man to win a court case in the 20th century..
To Kill a Mockingbird: the Character Analysis of Harper Lee’s Novel
While most people in society strive to have moral attributes, not everyone understands what traits are important in achieving this goal. Often, people attempt to model themselves after another’s example. In the novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee, Atticus Finch is a single father who lives with his two children, Jem and Scout, in the small town of Maycomb, Alabama. His young children constantly find themselves trying to keep occupied during the years that pass. One summer, Atticus, who is a lawyer, finds himself in the middle of a controversial case, involving a black man, Tom Robinson, and a white woman. Scout and Jem observe how Atticus responds to the changes the case brings to their small town which makes the children want to follow in his footsteps. In To Kill a Mockingbird, Atticus is a static character who is continually understanding, just, and honest.
Someone cannot truly call themselves a noble person if they are not able to understand others. Atticus is a character who proves noble throughout the story, leading many to respect him. Because of Atticus’ nobility, Jem and Scout are better able to comprehend the transformations in the community with unbiased eyes. “‘You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view’” (Lee 30). Atticus gives this advice to Scout after she has a terrible first day of school; Scout is not fond of her new teacher and is therefore refusing to go back. Atticus, who is calm and collected, tells Scout that maybe her teacher did not have a very good day either, and that Scout should put herself in Miss Caroline’s shoes before making any rash decisions. In situations like these, it is sometimes easier to learn only one side of the story, but Atticus decides to take a wider perspective. His ability to step back from situations and consider all angles of it shows how wise Atticus can truly be. Furthermore, Atticus shows his discernment when a mad dog enters into the neighborhood. “Mr. Tate almost threw the rifle at Atticus” (Lee 95). The dog is approaching when Mr. Tate, the sheriff, asks Atticus to shoot it for him. Atticus is reluctant but, instead of refusing, he swallows his pride and kills the dog for the safety of his family and friends. He recognizes that through slaying this dog, he will be keeping everyone out of harm’s way.Whether it is encouraging Scout to go back to school or shooting a rabid dog, Atticus keeps his strong sense of insightfulness and understanding throughout the novel.
A man who is just is said to be guided by reality, logic, and sprite. All of these traits apply to Atticus, especially during the time of Tom Robinson’s trial. “‘But there is one way in this country in which all men are created equal…That institution, gentlemen, is a court’” (Lee 205). During his closing argument, Atticus reminds the court of how the Judicial System is supposed to work: all men, whether they are intelligent, dim-witted, legendary, or black, have the right to a fair trial. Atticus is highly aware that the court is not perfect, but all he asks of the jury is that Tom Robinson may have a fair trial. Without a fair trial, no accurate resolution can be reached. Atticus shows his fairness when he addresses the jury about why he believes Mayella is telling the story the way she is. “‘She has committed no crime, she has merely broken a rigid and time-honored code of our society, a code so severe that whoever breaks it is hounded from our midst as unfit to live with’” (Lee 203). Atticus’ perception pierces through the façade of Mayella’s story and recognizes the reason behind Mayella’s ways. He has reason to believe that her father beat her, and this is the reason she accuses Tom of rape. However, in spite of knowing this, Atticus does not think it is fair to punish Mayella—she was doing what she had to do to save herself. Mayella is only a victim and Atticus does not believe it is just to censure her for this. Atticus proves that he is just in To Kill a Mockingbird by trying to live his life truthfully, reasonably, and fairly.
Atticus’ candidness throughout the story is what keeps the surrounding characters grounded and connected to reality. “…why didn’t Atticus just say yes, you’ll go free, and leave it at that— seemed like that’d be a big comfort to Tom” (Lee 254). As a lawyer, it is Atticus’ job to defend his client, but he also must be honest with him. Miss Rachel’s cook did not comprehend why Atticus did not tell Tom they would win Tom’s case, but Atticus did not want to make a promise that he could not keep. Atticus was the only man Tom could truly trust. If Atticus made him a pledge he could not uphold, it would not only break the trust between the pair, but also Tom’s hope in becoming a free man. “‘I told him what I thought, but I couldn’t in truth say that we had more than a good chance’” (Lee 235). Atticus has only been sincere with Tom Robinson and does not sugar-coat anything for his client. He understands that during this stressful time, lies will only make the situation worse. Without the outlook of reality, the ignorance that would certainly ensue would only lead to madness. Atticus’ sincerity is what leads others to trust and respect him in To Kill a Mockingbird.
In the novel To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee, Atticus is an important character who helps readers understand how to look through unprejudiced eyes. This is apparent when Atticus has the children become more sympathetic of the world around them. He is a man who does not see wrong were it does not exist. He is sincere, causing readers to not only trust what he says, but also trust his actions and advice. To be a good person, a man must have respectable characteristics even when others disapprove of them. Atticus Finch proves that even lawyers, can establish themselves to be upright and decent people.
Main Heroes of To Kill a Mockingbird: A Closer Look at Their Personalities
“Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. They don’t eat up people’s gardens, don’t nest in corncribs, they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird” (Lee 90). In Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird many of the characters can be portrayed by the quote “It’s a sin to kill a mocking bird.” The three characters that are best represented by this are Tom Robinson, Atticus Finch, and Boo Radley.
Tom Robinson is a mockingbird character because he was accused of raping Mayella Ewell but is clearly innocent. But because of this he was wrongly convicted do to the strong racism in Maycomb County. When Atticus was defending Tom he had a point that proved that it was impossible for Tom to have beaten on Mayella.
“Thomas Robinson reached around, ran his fingers under his left arm and lifted it. He guided his arm to the bible and his rubber-like left hand sought contact with the black binding. As he raised his right hand, the useless one slipped off the Bible and hit the clerks table.”(190).
This proves that Tom could not have beaten Mayella’s face, because Sheriff Tate stated that it was the right side of her face that was bruised that means Tom would have to hit her with his left hand which he cannot. Even though this point proves that Tom could not have done this to Mayella the court still finds him guilty. Tom does everything he could for Mayella he fetches water, he dismantles a chest of drawers, and he collects firewood. All because he feels sorry for her. Yet she turns on him and says that he was the one who raped her. While being questioned by Mr. Gilmer during the trial, Tom states on many occasions that his reason for helping Mayella was that he felt bad for her. “Yes, suh. I felt sorry for her, she seemed to try more’n the rest of them.” This quote makes Tom Robinson a mockingbird character. All he was trying to do for Mayella was make her a bit happier by helping her out, because he felt sorry for her because of the way her living conditions were. Yet she turned on him and accused him of rape.
Atticus was constantly being attacked by the Maycomb citizens even though all he was trying to do was the right thing. Even though Atticus was appointed to defend Tom Robinson, it was the fact that he aimed to defend him that angered the town. If the town could see past the racism then they would see that he was doing the right thing. At one point Scout overhears the members of the Idlers Club talking about her dad. “The court appointed Atticus to defend him. Atticus aimed to defend him. That’s what they didn’t like about it. It was confusing.”(163). Scout is confused why the town is angered at Atticus when it is his job to defend Tom even though he is black. Even Atticus’s friends turn on him during the novel; they threatened to kill him if he did not move out of their way. In this dialogue Atticus and some angry townsfolk talk about Tom after he is moved to the jail.
“He in there, Mr. Finch?” a man said
“He is,” we heard Atticus answer, “and he’s asleep. Don’t wake him up.”
“You know what we want,” said another man “Get aside the door, Mr. Finch.”(149-150)
The conversation goes on until Scout realizes that her father is going to be jumped. This quote proves that Atticus is a “mockingbird” character because he is only trying to do the right thing by helping Tom.
Boo Radley has done nothing to the other citizens of Maycomb but he still gets mocked and slandered by them. The Citizens of Maycomb have made up elaborate stories about how Boo eats cats, stabs his parents, and watches you sleep. While Scout is talking to Miss. Maudie at one point in the novel, Scout asks Miss. Maudie if the stories about Boo are true and she says that they are complete lies.
“Do you think they’re true, all those things they say about B-Mr. Arthur?”
I told her
“That is three-fourths coloured folks and one-fourth Stephanie Crawford”
This Quote proves that Boo is a “Mockingbird” character because once you here that the stories came from Stephanie Crawford you can tell that they are lies, and that the people are basing these stories off of little to no facts. A another point in the novel Boo comes out of his hiding and the children realize that he is not as bad as he was made out to be by the other citizens of Maycomb. “Hey, Boo”(270) this quote that Scout say’s when she finds out that her saviour was Boo makes him a “mockingbird” character because this is when Scout realizes that all along they have not really given Boo a chance, In the fact that Boo has not done anything to them but they still made fun of him.
Many of the characters are mockingbird characters in the novel, cast out from the normal life of Maycomb County for just trying to do the right thing. Tom Robinson. Atticus went against most of his family friends in his fight to defend Tom Robinson, Even though he wanted to do only what was right he still got attacked by his County. Boo Radley has been locked up for the past 15 years and has done no wrong to the Maycomb citizens but still they mock, kid, and make fun of him. Do you think these “mockingbird characters” deserved to be treated this way? No they do not they all were trying to do what they thought was best, although the citizens may not have agreed with it they should have been more understanding.
Integrity as the Main Trait of a Lawyer: Atticus Finch Character Analysis
“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.” In the classic novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, main character Atticus Finch lives by this saying; he judges the seeds he plants, not his success each day. This character, crafted by Harper Lee, applies courage and justice to difficult situations throughout the book. Constantly setting a noble standard, he pushes through adversity and prejudice that engulfs his small southern town in the 1930’s. Shaped by his past experiences, hero Atticus Finch strengthens the story’s moral values by displaying qualities that influence his family and an entire town.
Like any classic hero, Atticus’ history framed the person he eventually became and the morals he held himself to. Growing up at Finches’ Landing, ‘One Shot Finch’, his nickname earned from his sharp shooting skills, learned lessons like fairness and sensibility young. He eventually even gave up hunting because, “God had given him an unfair advantage over most living things (Lee 98)”. Being a white male, Atticus took the opportunity to attend the University of Alabama to study law. Soon after moving to his hometown, Maycomb, to practice law, he was voted to the state legislate where he met his wife. Within seven years of marriage, Atticus’ wife died of a heart attack, leaving him with two children, Jem and Scout, by himself. Events like these taught him perseverance and patience at as a young adult.
These lessons Atticus learned soon helped him when he faces major adversity at his job as a lawyer. Readers learn a lot about Atticus’s integrity in the Tom Robinson case. When assigned defense of a black gentleman in a contentious rape case, Atticus prepares for the trail with diligence. Even when the town and even his own family disagrees, Atticus does his job to the best of his ability. He takes his job seriously, respecting opponents and preparing diligently, despite the clients class or race. Atticus shows this year before when he defended Walter Cunningham’s entailment, even allowing him to pay in nuts and firewood. “The Cunninghams had no money to lay a lawyer, they simply paid us with what they had (Lee 210).” As a lawyer, Atticus truly does his best; bring out timeless, honorable traits.
From ambition to zealousness, Atticus shows personality traits at his work and at home that show his true integrity. One of the major beliefs he has is that treating all people with equality is vital to a functioning society, even in an era when racism was socially expectable. Calpurnia, the Finch’s black maid and nanny, is treated with respect and as an equal by Atticus, even taking the children with her to the all black church, First Purchase. He also believes in an unorthodox definition of courage, saying that “it’s when you know you’re licked before you begin but begin anyway and you see it through no matter what (Lee).” Sincere Atticus proved this while protecting Tom outside of the jail by himself. Knowing the danger and potential consequences, Atticus chooses to do what is right and stands up against his fellow townspeople.
Apart from work, Atticus shows these traits and others around his family at home. Honest is important to him, especially when dealing with his children. He tells Scout the definition of rape and a whore-lady, despite her young age. He also puts his intellectually to work at home, reading every chance he gets. In the book, its also tells that he wasn’t like the other fathers, “he did not play poker or fish or drink or smoke. Just sat in the living room and read. (Lee 89).” It upsets Jem that Atticus wouldn’t play in the town’s football game; his father saying he was too old. Atticus’ life is that which may be expected of a fifty year old’s, staying true to his values and beliefs.
With honesty and equality, Atticus fights obstacles, such as an unpleased town and curious children, by holding fast to what he knew was right. Lessons that he acquired by experiences as a boy cared through to his adult life. When faced with situations as a lawyer, he also stood strong and unwavering. Also his personality shines through, always treating people humanly. These characteristics also show at home by the way he handles his children and household. Every story needs a hero, and Atticus Finch couldn’t fit the role any better!