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A Just Moral Code

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How far will people go to uphold their moral standards? In the novel To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, Atticus Finch’s character is tested when he is assigned to serve as the defense attorney for a black man. This is considered nearly a grave sin by his fellow Southern peers. Atticus Finch risks his reputation, career, friendships, and even his own life because he has a strong moral sense uncommon to the Caucasian-dominate state of Alabama at the time.

It is clear that Atticus risks his reputation by defending Tom. He loses respect from his closest friends and family members. For instance, Aunt Alexandra believes that Atticus’ deeds reflect negatively on the family image. Jem and Scout can hardly walk a block without hearing harsh remarks about their father. There is no margin of doubt that Atticus’ reputation is definitely put in danger.

Atticus’ career is most certainly put on the line as well. There are probably few people in Maycomb County that would gladly hire Atticus Finch after he defended an African-American man. As sickening as it may sound, the average southern man would rather any other lawyer in the state represent them before Atticus Finch. Alabama was undoubtedly a racist state, and Atticus could have potentially lost a lot of business after the case. This evidence truly proves that Atticus risks his career as an attorney.

Friendships were dissolved as a result of Atticus defending Tom. There were several instances where Atticus lost life-long friends. One example was how Mr. Cunningham almost ended Atticus’ life while attempting to reach Tom Robinson at the jail. Atticus did legal work for Mr. Cunningham, and even allowed him to pay Atticus with food rather than money. Atticus was good to Mr. Cunningham, and in return he lost a friendship.

It does not take a genius to conclude that Atticus desires to defend Tom. Although he was assigned as the defense attorney, Atticus still wants to do the job. Atticus even says to his own children that he could not tell them what to do if he did not take this case. He means that if he does not live a just way of life himself, then it would be hypocritical to establish a moral code into his children. This serves as evidence that it is in Atticus’ interest to be Tom’s lawyer.

Atticus is willing to lay down his life for this case. History shows that death was certainly a factor for white men who supported black men in the South. The Ku Klux Klan was an active organization during the time. Atticus was obviously knowledgeable of these circumstances and he went forth and did the right thing. This really shows a lot about Atticus’ character and shows that Atticus knows that death could be a possible outcome as a result for representing Tom.

Atticus believes that all men are created equal. He makes the decision to defend Tom because of this fact. His decision should not surprise his audience because they know who Atticus is. They know how much he cares about his town, family, and country. There should not be any wonder why Atticus would risk everything for this case. It is obvious that Atticus did not identify people by their skin color, but by their character.

Overall, one can conclude that Atticus’ heart is fully devoted to this case. He risks it all because he needs to maintain his just way of life. It is necessary to Atticus’ well being that he does this case. Atticus Finch risked his life to stay lawful to his moral code. His character was tested, and he aced that test. He did the right thing, and in the process risked his reputation, friendships, career and even his life.



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