Courage and Prejudice in To Kill a Mockingbird (Novel) and Invictus (Film)
To stand against prejudice and racism takes courage because of the consequences.” How does the author of the novel and one other text you have studied in class show this?
You will need to discuss the nature of racism and prejudice in your answer and give examples from the texts to prove your thesis.
Mahatma Ghandi once said “It is easy to stand with the crowd, but it takes courage to stand alone.” To advocate for an unpopular opinion is like jumping into the deep end of the pool. The theme of courage and prejudice is portrayed vividly throughout the novel, To Kill a Mockingbird and the film, Invictus, particularly through Atticus Finch and Nelson Mandela. Standing up for an unpopular opinion does come with consequences. In 1930’s Alabama and severely apartheid South Africa, Atticus Finch and Nelson Mandela are two men of courage who take a stand against racism and prejudice without fear of consequences.
Atticus has been the strongest symbol of courage throughout To Kill a Mockingbird. He displays many feats of courage, but, the ones that outshone all others was when he challenged the mob outside the jail and defended Tom Robinson. He had to show his children that there is more to courage than meets the eye. His physical courage is as strong as his moral courage. Atticus showed courage when he was guarding Tom’s prison cell at night. He is unarmed and waits for people to come and challenge him. However, when Mr Cunningham and his pack arrive for Atticus, so does Jem, Scout and Dill, and this is the only time that Atticus showed any fear at all, because the children’s lives were also at risk. Selflessly, he risks his life to save Tom’s. Atticus also shows tremendous courage, when he takes the case of Tom Robinson, an innocent African America, who has been charged with rape. Harper Lee shows the immense courage it took to do so, because Atticus already knew he had lost before he started. The people of Maycomb prioritise whites over blacks. He stood up for Tom Robinson, even though he was called vile names and his children were almost killed by Bob Ewell. In the trial, he had clearly proven to the jury that Tom was innocent, but even so, he knew he had lost because of the immense racism that loomed in Maycomb. “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 being, but you begin anyway.” He stood up for what was right and gained respect from the entire African American community in Maycomb as well as the handful of white people in Maycomb who believe in the equality of all. He didn’t take the easy way out and refuse the case entirely, he stood alone and did what was right, not what was easy.
Nelson Mandela is also a symbol courage in the film Invictus, directed by Clint Eastwood. He had the seemingly impossible task of bringing a hostile and apartheid nation together. Mandela shows outstanding courage, especially in the first football match, which happened shortly after he was elected. The walk onto the field is dark and slow, suggesting that something bad might happen, but once he makes it out into daylight, the smile on his face is unmissable. The crowd, are all mostly Afrikaners, and as soon as they see sight of Mandela, they start to ‘boo’ loudly, but still, that doesn’t faze him. The displeasure of the Afrikaners is further displayed through a cutaway shot showing some spectators not clapping their hands and standing in the crowd with stony looks on their faces and arms tightly crossed. Mandela still waves the crowd and then makes his way to shake the hands of the Springbok’s players, who have humble looks on their faces when the president shakes hands with them. Mandela takes a leap of faith and makes his way into the seating area, where the crowd stands and gets some very audible ‘boos’, but talks to everyone there. Nelson Mandela has just put himself into an extremely dangerous and risky situation, but for the sake of his country, he does it anyway. Making his way back into the tunnel, something is thrown at him, but he completely ignores it, keeps smiling and walks back in. Being ‘booed’ off a field is one of the most embarrassing and discouraging things that can happen to a person, but in that scene, Mandela’s smile did not fall at any time. He courageously walked out onto the field, with full knowledge that the Afrikaners are not fond of him. To keep standing tall when being constantly pushed down takes tremendous courage. Nelson Mandela was determined to bring his nation back together and bear the brunt of all those against the idea. “The rainbow nation starts here.” The severely apartheid community is portrayed again because when England made a goal, a group of black South Africans, shot up from their seats and cheered, representing how the black South Africans have no interest in their own country’s team. Nelson Mandela truly did what was right not easy, and that is how he brought a wonderful nation back together.
Scout, or Jean Louise Finch, although only seven years old, also shows courage. The entire novel of To Kill a Mockingbird is narrated through Scout in direst person .Part of her courage, though comes for her being a child. She does what she thinks is right or normal but ultimately, it is a choice, her choice. She helps out Walter Cunningham, when Miss Caroline, her new teach offers him some money for lunch. “When Walter shook his head a third time someone whispered, ‘Go on and tell her, Scout.’ I rose graciously on Walter’s behalf: ‘Ah—Miss Caroline?’ ‘What is it, Jean Louise?’ ‘Miss Caroline, he’s a Cunningham.’ This is courageous because she gets in trouble for anything she says in her classes. She spoke up for someone who didn’t have a voice, or courage of their own. She also has a conversation with a mob of men who were about to attack Atticus in front of the jail. From sheer curiosity, she starts to talk to Mr Cunningham about his son, Walter. This makes Mr Cunningham almost immediately retreat from the jail. The child in her came out and asked harmless questions and Harper Lee had effectively enhanced this effect by the first person narration in the book by Scout. Scout had potentially saved her father’s life and she didn’t even know it. She naively talked to Mr Cunningham which made him rethink his actions and back away, his last to Scout being, “I’ll tell him you said hey, little lady.” When Atticus’ courage failed him, Scout’s innocence saved him. Scout also is courageous when she pulls Boo out of the corner when he had come to their house. In Maycomb, there have been myths made up about Boo Radley and how he is supposedly barbaric, violent and a cannibal. Scout has heard all these stories but when she sees Boo for the first time, she holds his hand and leads him to see Jem. This would have taken her lots of courage because when you here bad about a person by other, you tend to believe it, so for Scout to do that was courageous. Her innocence in doing this is further portrayed through the first person narration through Scout. Her impeccable detail to all things, including how Boo’s skin looked and how warm it was, is impressive for a child of just seven years of age. Scout, even though she doesn’t know it and through her sheer innocence, did what was right rather than easy.
In conclusion, Atticus Finch and Nelson Mandela, are two men of courage who choose to do what is right rather than easy, regardless on the consequences it imposes. In To Kill a Mockingbird Atticus Finch had the unfortunate task of defending an innocent African American or rape and the film Invictus, where Nelson Mandela had to bring his extremely apartheid nation of sixty – three million together as one. Atticus Finch and Nelson Mandela are two men who are great symbols of courage.
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