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Real courage- To kill a Mockingbird essay

learningtowrite 32 / 50  
Jul 25, 2008   #1
This is my assignment on To Kill a Mockingbird. Can you help me check through and comment on my styles? Can you give me some advice on how to do a better analysis in terms of writing structure? I tries to give point-evidence-elaboration. Please tell me if there is something lacking.

Thanks so much in advance:)

"Real courage is- when you know you are licked before you begin, but you begin anyway, and you see it through no matter what..." Discuss the concept of courage as depicted by Mrs. Dubose and Atticus.

Harper Lee introduced the concept of moral courage through the image of Mrs. Dubose, a morphine addict who wished to get rid of her painkiller before leaving the world and Atticus Finch, the principled lawyer who went against the prejudiced society of Maycomb to protect a black man, Tom Robinson.

Mrs. Dubose had been taking morphine as a painkiller, prescribed by doctors, for years. Before she died, she wanted to get rid of the drug, so that she would die "beholden to nothing and nobody". As an old and sick woman, she had every right for take the drug to live the few months left in peace, "to make things easier", as Atticus said, but she followed her personal principles and chose the other way. Her decision resulted in a series of withdrawal fits. Jem and Scout were made to come to her house to read for her every day, and they were terrified to see "cords of saliva collect on her lips" and "her mouth seemed to have a private existence of its own". Mrs. Dubose asked them to come and read for her so as to distract her from the unmitigated agony. In fact, she was in a world of her own and did not hear the children; most of the time she would be waiting for the alarm clock to ring. And as the children noticed, the alarm clock rang a few minutes later every day, they stayed back a few minutes later everyday, and by that time, Mrs. Dubose had already been deep in her fits.

Mrs. Dubose exemplified moral courage, as she neglected her own personal suffering to follow her own principles. She could have chosen to take the drug to die without agony, but she was too contrary. And thus, she died "beholden to nothing and nobody". As Atticus said, "she won", with no guns or pistols but with her own determination, and she was the bravest person he had ever known. Harper Lee could have chosen a more likable character, like Miss Maudie, to show the goodness of people. Instead, she chose Mrs. Dubose, the prejudiced member of Maycomb, who insulted Atticus as "nigger-lover" to show the concept of courage. By doing so, Lee suggests that there is always something good in everybody, no matter how unappealing that person appears to be. Moreover, this courage concept is contrasted with her prejudice, thus becoming more outstanding for the audience.

Throughout the novel, Atticus has been portrayed as the model of moral courage. He went against the whole town to protect the innocent black man, Tom Robinson. Before the trial, he had already been insulted by the term "nigger-lover" by many people, including his own family members. Francis echoed the ranting of Aunt Alexandra, saying that Atticus was a disgrace for the family, that "he would never be able to walk the streets of Maycomb". He was even confronted by his friends trying to talk him out of it, as Link Deas said, "[Atticus] has everything to lose". Atticus did realise this problem; he knew that he was "fighting [his] friends"; "no matter how bitter things get, they are still [his] friends and this is still [his] home". Despite all the pressure, he determined to carry on so as to justice.

Before the case, Atticus had already known that he had little chance to win. He knew that with only "a black man's words against the Ewells", the white, "in the heart of men he had no case". There was no way for Tom Robinson to be proven innocent, for prejudice had been deep-rooted in Maycomb; everybody had an evil assumption that a Negro was not to be trusted, while a white man would never lie. He knew already that he would lose anyway, but Atticus kept trying to defend him, to bring the light of justice into Maycomb. The fear or failure was not strong enough to discourage him from his principle; it was like "you know that you are licked before you begin, but you begin no matter what".

Even when Atticus faced danger, he did not back off. In front of the Maycomb Jail, he was confronted by the lynch mob, without any weapon or protection from Heck Tate, who had "been called off a snipe hunt". The situation was so alarming that Mr. Underwood had to use his double-barrelled gun to try to cover for Atticus from his office on top of the jail. Atticus was not obligated by law to protect his client but he took on the responsibility so that his client could be judged in court, not by physical action, the kind of courage that Maycomb took as priority. Atticus put himself in danger's way to let the truth be told. Moral courage is Atticus's best asset, making him the most respectable keeper of justice in Maycomb.

Therefore, the idea of moral courage is deeply enforced in the novel through the image of Atticus and Mrs. Dubose.
EF_Team5 - / 1,586  
Jul 25, 2008   #2
You have good examples, just watch your citations. What reference style are you to be using?
Also, watch your punctuation and quotation marks. You do have good organization and it flows well.
OP learningtowrite 32 / 50  
Jul 25, 2008   #3

All my quotes are from To Kill A Mockingbird. This is an assignment on that novel, so I don't have to say every time I quote that it is from TKAM, do I?

Regarding the quoting, when I quote do I always have to start with capital letters? I thought since using direct quote is to weave the quote nicely into the flow of the essay, I don't have to. And in the book the quote doesn't start with capital letters anyway, it is in the middle of the sentences.

Thank you so much for your help!
EF_Team5 - / 1,586  
Aug 12, 2008   #4
Yes, you do. Each time you quote something, you have to cite where it came from. Not everyone that reads your text will know where the references lead to. Also, there are several different publications and editions of texts, especially popular classics such as this one. Thus, the page numbers do not always coincide. Just because a quote is on page 25 of your copy does not mean that the same quote is on page 25 of my copy, and that is, after all, the whole point of citing; so that others can locate where you got your information.

If the quote you are using uses a capital, then you have to use one as well. If the quoted portion is the beginning of the sentence, a capital must be used.

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