What comes to mind when we think of a hero? For most, it is the masked and caped crusader, who offers protection from the mean streets. Our modern day heroes save the lives of the innocent from the clutches and certain doom of wrong-doers and villains.
A Hero of A Different Kind
Consider the personal and professional traits of Atticus Finch—a kind and loving single father, and a thoughtful and dedicated member of the legal establishment.
He raised two bright, independent and open-minded children in times of distinct troubles and unrest. The 1930s was a time of mistrust and prejudice. In the midst of such a tempestuous time, Atticus held strong to his belief that the only way to live is with your head held high while doing what is right.
There were imperfections of course, but Atticus had the ability to see past his own, and those of others, knowing there was much more at stake than simple human frailties and errors. He remained at the forefront of his community because of his kindness, intelligence and empathy.
The High Road
Atticus is tested many times throughout the novel. To confront the unjust against seemingly impossible odds, or to choose an easier, more comfortable path, is a dilemma that many face, and one that Atticus faced because of the trial. His strength of character and courage remained steadfast. He could never let his children see him turn his back on everything he had tried to instill in them; it would simply go against his moral grain.
While the word may be thrown around often in modern times, hero was a characterization not too familiar in the vocabulary in the world of Maycomb, Alabama. Folks went about their business as best they could, fending off problems of daily life and the circumstances of their lives.
There aren’t too many men or women who would take on the responsibility of having to save a man’s life at the risk of their professional standing and personal safety. This takes a hero. Maybe that’s the true definition of being a hero—overcoming adversity and keeping those you hold dear safe, whilst teaching them respect of not only themselves, but of others.
It is circumstance that can lead even the most tolerant and passive of people to negative thoughts and actions. The true lesson of To Kill a Mockingbird and Atticus Finch is that, though we are indeed the products of our environment, we must battle to live the best, most authentic lives we can.
Due to the many life lessons he imparts, to this day Atticus Finch remains one of our most prized and notable literary heroes.
Who is your hero? What does hero mean to you? Let us know by leaving a comment!