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  • Writer's picturePaul

Truth, Decency, and Dignity

Updated: Apr 3, 2019


Video Length: 4:53 min

"To Kill a Mockingbird" may be the greatest work of fiction ever written by an American author. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 for fiction and made into a movie in 1962, it would win film legend Gregory Peck his only Academy Award.

The book can be summed up in three simple words truth, decency and dignity! Both the book and movie present a powerful message as fervent and dignified as the lead character, Atticus Finch and his closing statement in the courtroom. His address to the jury and to the court are as well constructed and intelligent as any argument presented by the philosophers and orators of the Ancient world.

Shakespeare's idiom "My tongue will tell the anger of my heart, or else my heart concealing it will break." resonates throughout the work. To do the right thing, is the only thing that should matter, yet we are fenced in by so many varying issues such as society, culture and prejudice. In the end, we find that true courage does not come from people in power, groups or organizations with agendas but by those who stand up for something they believe in, even if the whole world is saying otherwise.

Description & Discussion:

Atticus Finch knew what he was doing would stir up racial issues and cause conflict in the small southern town. But he also believed in the U.S. justice system and that everyone was entitled to a fair trial. He knew why he was there and what he was doing which was to guarantee that the accused man was protected under the 5th and 6th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution. He knew it would be a very hard uphill battle, but knowing why he served the defense role allowed him to persevere even as the town turned against him.

The one quote that has stayed with me from the book is where Atticus Finch is talking to his children after Mrs. Dubose dies from cancer. He says “I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It's when you know you're licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what." He means that courage is never giving up even when you feel beaten.

Decision, Design & Discipline:

Another quote that has inspired my decision-making process is "They're certainly entitled to think that, and they're entitled to full respect to their own opinions...but before I can live with other folks I've got to live with myself. The one thing that doesn't abide by majority rule is a person's conscience." This is one of the best quotes in the novel. What he means is that before you can deal with how others think of you, you have deal with how you think of yourself.

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