Many people, including Jem and Scout when they're young, mix up courage with strength. They think that courage is the ability and willingness to use strength to get your way. But Atticus defines courage as "when you know you're licked before you begin but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what." Courage, in To Kill a Mockingbird, is not about winning or losing. It's about thinking long and hard about what's right instead of relying on personal prejudice or gut reaction, and then doing what's right whether you win or lose. To Kill a Mockingbird is filled with examples of courage, from Mrs. Dubose's fight against her morphine addiction, to Atticus's determination to face down the racism of the town, to Mr. Underwood's willingness to face down his own racist feelings and support what he knows, in the end, is right.
Courage Quotes in To Kill a Mockingbird
"For a number of reasons," said Atticus. "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, I couldn't even tell you or Jem not to do something again."
"Atticus, are we going to win it?"
"Simply because we were licked a hundred years before we started is no reason for us not to try to win," Atticus said.
Beneath its sweat-streaked dirt Dill's face went white. I felt sick.
Jem was standing in a corner of the room, looking like the traitor he was. "Dill, I had to tell him," he said. "You can't run three hundred miles off without your mother knowin'."
We left him without a word.