What Is Atticus Finch's Integrity In To Kill A Mockingbird

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Thomas 1 Alysson A. Thomas L. Traweek AP English III 24 April 2015 Atticus: Self-Reliance and Integrity When a man is self-reliant, a sense of integrity is sure to follow. Harper Lee captures the connection between the two characteristics through fictional father and lawyer, Atticus Finch. He clings to his beliefs in all he does, puts himself in danger to protect the innocent, and has the courage to stand on his beliefs even when he stands alone. In Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, protagonist, Atticus Finch, is characterized by his self-reliance and integrity. In his essay on self reliance, Ralph Waldo Emerson summarizes self reliance as “trust thyself.” Atticus Finch has to trust himself to adequately defend African American,…show more content…
Carolyn Jones tells us in her critical insight of To Kill a Mockingbird that “Atticus allows himself to be the target of an irrational force and its violence as he acts to protect innocent people” (147). The reader sees this protection of the innocent in three key scenes: shooting Tim Johnson, defending Tom Robinson, and an altercation with Bob Ewell. First, in chapter ten, the reader sees Tim Johnson, a rabid dog, heading straight for the neighborhood in which Atticus lives. Though he has not shot a gun in many years, Atticus steps up and shoots the rabid dog in order to protect the innocent people in the neighborhood. Next, the reader sees Atticus begin to defend Tom Robinson against the Ewells’ rape accusations. Not only does he legally defend Tom, but in chapter fifteen, Atticus actually goes and sits at the jail to defend Tom against a mob that has come to kill him. One more instance in which the reader sees Atticus Finch…show more content…
Bob, a very ignorant, poor man, feels like he must get some sort of revenge on Atticus for going against him in court, so he spits in Atticus’s face. Atticus simply tells his children “if spitting in my face and threatening me save Mayella Ewell one extra beating, that’s something I’d gladly take” (Lee 292). Atticus allows himself to be put in danger by letting Bob take his anger out on him rather than him going home and abusing his daughter, Mayella Ewell even more. In the novel, Walter Cunningham, a poor white man, who lives in Maycomb and serves on the jury, believes Tom is innocent, but he does not have the integrity to act upon his beliefs. Atticus’s self-reliant characteristics make him stand firm in his beliefs and follow what his conscience tells him. When talking to Scout about why he is going to continue defending Tom, Atticus tells her “the one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience” (Lee 140). Atticus signifies integrity because he “ha[s] a conscience and listens[s] to
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