Empathy, Courage And Integrity Of Atticus Finch In Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird
Harper Lee’s most socially oriented novels of the Civil Rights Era in the USA, to kill a mockingbird, published in 1960 provides an insight of ignorant racial relationships through the lens of the 1930s context. Throughout the novel, several events take place that determines every character’s mindset through their approach to skirmishes. Atticus Finch acts as a representative of Lee’s perception of an idealist human being. Atticus endures exterior and interior conflicts that reformulate the meaning of exemplifying empathy, courage and integrity towards other beings.
All through the novel, Atticus Finch sticks to his philosophy: “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view until you climb in his skin and walk around in it” and chooses to be empathic towards every character he crosses path with. For instance, In Chapter 10, Mrs. Dubose insults Atticus as his children walks pass her house. Instead of initiating a conflict, Atticus calmly delivers his genuine feelings to Jem: “She’s an old lady and she’s ill. You just hold your head high and be a gentleman. Whatever she says to you, it’s your job not to let her make you mad”. Atticus puts himself in Mrs. Dubose shoes and understands that she is under a lot of pressure due to being critically ill and struggling with a morphine addiction. Therefore, he feels sympathetic towards her and does not hold her responsible for her words or actions. In chapter 23, Bob Ewell insults Atticus by spitting on his face as he is leaving the post office, yet again, instead of reacting, Atticus chooses to let Bob Ewell curse at him and remains collected. When Jem questions lack of response, Atticus claims: “Jem, see if you can stand in Bob Ewell’s shoes a minute. I destroyed last shred of credibility at that trail, if he had any to begin with. That man had to have comeback; his kind always does. So, if spitting in my face and threatening me saved Mayella Ewell one extra beating, that’s something I’ll gladly take. He had to take it out on somebody and id rather it be me than that houseful of children out there. You understand?”. Atticus doesn’t only display empathy for Bob Ewell by considering his frustration and resentment but also, depicts empathy towards his children, especially Mayella. This verifies that Atticus can be empathetic towards characters with contrary morals and ideals to his own. Whilst empathy is one of Atticus’ strongest personality traits that make him stand out, Courage is also equally weighted in terms of distinctiveness.
Although Atticus’ standard of living contradicts the social norm of Maycomb community, Atticus continues to pursue courage throughout the novel by maintaining and practicing his strong principles, morals and values. For illustration, Atticus chooses to defend Tom Robinson, knowing that the consequences of defending an African American were treacherous due to prejudice and racism that revolves around stereotyped ideologies in Maycomb community. In Chapter 9, Atticus’ brother, Jack questions Atticus’ reasoning behind his bold choice, Atticus says: “But do you think I could face my children otherwise? You know what’s going to happen as well as I do, Jack, and I hope and pray I can get Jem and Scout through it without bitterness, and most of all, without catching Maycomb’s usual disease. Why reasonable people go stark raving mad when anything involving a Negro comes up, is something I don’t pretend to understand… I just hope that Jem and Scout come to me for their answers instead of listening to the town”. Atticus was aware that he was risking his family name and career, yet he chooses to depict courage in his ideology as justice is more significant than any personal harm that he possible would have to deal with attributable to supporting his commitments. In Chapter 30, Atticus acknowledges that Jem may have murdered Bob Ewell as he states: “You heard Scout said, there’s no doubt about it. She said Jem got up and yanked him off – he probably got hold of Ewell’s knife somehow in the dark… we’ll find out tomorrow”. Atticus Finch demonstrates courage by insisting that his children adhere to his ethical standards regardless of the risks it may cost. Even though Atticus fears the possibility of his son killing Bob Ewell, he refuses to lie in order to protect Jem from the consequences. Whereas, Atticus’ courageous personality projects his exceptionality in the Maycomb community, his ability to demonstrate integrity also makes him distinct.
Atticus Finch depicts integrity towards other characters through several segments of the novel. Despite the exterior or interior conflicts, he may be battling, he remains tolerant and treats people equally even with ignorant ideologies. Firstly, Atticus portrays integrity by treating his children equally. In chapter 9, Scout claims: “when Jem an’ I fuss Atticus doesn’t ever just listen to Jem’s side of it, he hears, mine too”. Atticus shows integrity by not obliviously assuming the right person, he gives everyone’s a chance before making a judgement. Lastly, In Chapter 14, When Aunt Alexandra tries to influence Atticus to fire Calpurnia, he states: Alexandra, Calpurnia ‘s not leaving the house until she wants to. You may thing otherwise, but I couldn’t have got along without her all these years. She’s a faithful member of this family and you’ll have to accept things the way they are”. Despite the racial ideologies and his sister pressuring him into firing Cap, Atticus does not only defend Calpurnia but also refers to her as a faithful member of the family. He treats her fairly and refuses to fire her. Atticus’ actions are corresponding with his beliefs and the ability to demonstrate integrity makes him unique as the supreme court of Maycomb did not attain the level of integrity Atticus had.
Throughout the novel, Atticus demonstrates individuality from other characters in the novel. He conducts himself in a sophisticated manner by expressing empathy, courage and fairness. His strong morals, beliefs and ideologies make him stand out in the crowd full of ignorant citizens of Maycomb and proves that he is the different from everyone due to what he practices and preaches.
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