Sunday, May 4, 2008

Freshmen: Atticus Finch

Atticus' decision to defend an African-American man in a racially divisive community fuels the second half of the novel. With his actions in mind, consider the following: should our morals be the ultimate determinant in our decisions or are there circumstances under which the safety and well-being of ourselves and our families comes first? Defend your response with specific arguments and examples.

32 comments:

Rachel m. said...

I feel as thought there is nothing more important than someone’s morals, but when it comes to the safety of someone that you are close to comes into question, they are the more important of the two. But there are also other aspects that come into question. Aspects that include what is the exact situation, and how close the parties involved are to the ones whom may get hurt.
Personally, I think that Atticus was right in defending Tom Robinson when no one else stepped up to the plate to do so. I do see why a lot of people in the community would not come to his aid due to the fact that they would be going against their own race, and the cultural aspects of how they were raised to think that they would be better than Tom.
I can also see on the opposite side of the spectrum where a person’s morals are the strongest part of their self as a whole, not just the morals of what to do for themselves. They feel as though no matter who is going to get hurt, or be changed in the process, they are going to stick to what they think is right, and no one will be able to change it.

Anonymous said...

I think that its very important for someone morals But to defend your family first or the safety of your family is even more important. I know if I had to pick something between my sports game or my family is in trouble I would pick my family first. I think that Atticus did the right decision to defend Tom Robinson but i think he also mad a mistake to defend Tom because his family would get mad fun of by the other people who are very racist in there town or get threaten by them . If I was Atticus I would not of pick defending Tom because I would get made fun of or they would hurt my family but if it was in the time period I live in now I would definitely defend him.


Steve Tessier

Anonymous said...

There are many people who chose to follow their morals instead of doing what is right and possibly putting the ones they care most about in danger. Throughout the beginning of To Kill a Mockingbird Scout and Jem are continuously harassed because of the decision that Atticus made. Although Scout and Jem were affected by the choice Atticus made, the right choice was made to defend Tom Robinson. By defending Tom Robinson Atticus was criticized greatly; he had to put his family aside and do what was right for the good of Tom Robinson. In life you have to make choices, some are more difficult than others, but when it comes down to defending an innocent man or having the well-being of your family jeopardized, not everyone will make them same choice.
Atticus seems to believe that Tom Robinson is innocent. The day Atticus agreed to be Tom’s lawyer; he made a life changing decision. At school Scout and Jem were affected by other students’ hurtful words, and whenever Atticus went out someone would have something mean to say to him. If the case Atticus was defending was anymore controversial case then his life and his family’s life could be in greater danger. Even if anyone in the town got angrier at the Finches then there life could be in danger now. If something bad were to happen to one of the Finches then Atticus would live the rest of his life knowing that his decision hurt his family.
The choices that Atticus made didn’t just affect him or his family it affected the rest of Maycomb and the Robinson family. It is too late for Atticus to get out of this mess now so he has to stay on through the trial and do his best job to prove to the court that Tom Robinson is innocent. Atticus will most likely also stay on this case to uphold the justice of Maycomb. Hopefully by the end of the trial Atticus will be able to bring out the truth of what happened and have everything in his life and his family’s life go back to normal.

-Kristin Murray

Anonymous said...

Many people say a moral is more important than their family or the opposite. Some choices may be worst than others but there is always a way to get though it. Atticus making a life changing decision has ruined his children’s life. Jem and Scout are critized everyday in school by their peers and others. But Atticus sees it as Tom Robinson is innocent and right now the family is not in danger or any trouble, they are just continualsu being critized.
If Tom Robinson is innocent, why not help the man whether he is black or not. I am really surprised Atticus has not got sick of the comments his neighbors have to say about him and his job. That’s all Atticus wants to do is prove to the town of Maycomb and the judge that Tom Robinson is innocent. Hopefully at the end of the story the judge proves Tom innocent, the truth will then be revealed to the town of Maycomb and maybe the outcome will change the town’s point of view on being races.

Anonymous said...

No one knows what is ever right or wrong. People follow their morals or what they think is best. In to Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee the main characters Scout and Jem are greatly affected by their father’s job, they are bullied in school and on the streets. Atticus is making the choice of what he thinks is right. While defending Tom Robinson, Atticus is constantly being yelled. He cannot go to the center of town without being pushed around or critized. Atticus seems to believe that Tom Robinson is innocent.

When the children found out their father was in support of Tom Robinson they knew that their lives were going to completely change. Jem and Scout are picked on by their teachers and their peers. The town of Maycomb may open up to the fact that Tom is black and just because he is black does not mean he is guilty. Atticus’ wants to make sure the town knows that Tom is innocent after the trial.
-suzanne

Anonymous said...

When it comes to morals, there is nothing more important to it then that. I think that Atticus made a promising decision to keep defending Tim Robinson. He knows that Scout and Jem will probably be bullied in school because of it. Although, Scout starts to start fights because Cecil Jacobs always makes fun of her so she wants to fight back. I don’t really think Atticus thought about this much when he made the decision to defend Tim Robinson. “Scout, simply by the nature of the work, every lawyer gets at least one case in his lifetime where it affects him personally. This one’s mine, I guess.” (Page 76) By this he means that once in a while someone gets a case that relates to them directly. He says this one’s his because he will get a lot of complaints and criticism about this case that will hit him hard at the home in which he lives. I think he should have talked to Jem and Scout before making the decision to represent a “negroe” because I think that their opinions are the only one’s that count.

-Sydney Colbert
B Block

Anonymous said...

By taking on the case of Tom Robinson, Atticus was taking on one of the biggest cases of his entire life. He realizes this when his children Scout and Jem come home from outings telling of what people say to them. He also realizes that people are not going to believe an African-American man verses a white girl, even though her family is white trash. “The only thing we’ve got is a black man’s word against the Ewells’.” (pg. 88)
When debating whether or not to take the case, there are some things that Atticus should think about. He never thought that Jem and Scout would be ridiculed like that, getting into fights because of it. “But do you think I could face my children otherwise?” (pg 88) He also realizes that giving up would be worse for them then being teased. Now that he was in the “war” he could not get out of it without having to put up a fight.
Atticus should think about Tom Robinson before his family only because he knows that they won’t break down. He realizes that he is Tom’s only hope and that if he didn’t help him, an innocent man would go to jail. Jem and Scout will survive and dealing with the opposite race will help them later in life. He is a very smart and sensitive man and should be given credited.


Sarah Tenglin

Anonymous said...

In the novel To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, the book begins to focus around Atticus (the father of the main characters) and how he is defending an African-American man from a rape charge. Atticus has decided to take the case because of his moral that everyone should be treated equally no matter what the color. Morals should be the ultimate determinant in our decisions but they are not always, the reason being fear. The fear of your own safety and well-being, the fear of the safety and well-being of your family and the fear of humiliation for what you believe is right or wrong.
I believe that Atticus’ morals are right, that everyone should be treated equal and have a fair chance, even though I believe that I don’t know if it is something I would tell someone if it would put my family in harms way. The well-being of my family is more important to me than my morals will ever be. Some people fear the humiliation that would come with defending what you believe and would not want to risk taking on the outstanding number of people who oppose them. I think that Atticus took on the case be cause of his morals but also to protect his children. By taking the case his children face ridicule, be shunned, and possible being harmed physically and mentally but I believe he is really trying to protect them from becoming ignorant, self-centered people who believe that they are better than African-Americans.
Taking the case was the right thing to do. In doing so he is helping not only the African-Americans but he is also helping the world become a better more peaceful place to live with no fear of sharing your morals with others.


Lindsay White

Anonymous said...

Our morals should be the ultimate determinant in our decisions because people need to do what is right, not what they think may be best. For instance, if a black man is charged with a crime, but is really innocent, he should not be guilty just because of the color of his skin. He should be given a fair trial because it is the right thing to do. In To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee, Atticus is the only person in town defending Tom Robinson. Atticus is doing the right thing because he is not letting the rest of the town get in the way of his morals, even though Jem and Scout are being made fun of at school and by the neighbors.

However, I can understand why someone will do something for the safety of themselves instead of sticking to the morals. If Tom Robinson is to be found guilty, and is sentenced to death, then I think someone might stand by his side and try to protect him from any danger, even if the person hates black people. It would make the person look good, making him look like a lifesaver. If the person Atticus was not only being ridiculed, but was also being threatened, then I think he would rethink his position on the Tom Robinson case.

-Charlie Switzer

Anonymous said...

Our morals should be the ultimate determinant in our decisions because people need to do what is right, not what they think may be best. For instance, if a black man is charged with a crime, but is really innocent, he should not be guilty just because of the color of his skin. He should be given a fair trial because it is the right thing to do. In To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee, Atticus is the only person in town defending Tom Robinson. Atticus is doing the right thing because he is not letting the rest of the town get in the way of his morals, even though Jem and Scout are being made fun of at school and by the neighbors.

However, I can understand why someone will do something for the safety of themselves instead of sticking to the morals. If Tom Robinson is to be found guilty, and is sentenced to death, then I think someone might stand by his side and try to protect him from any danger, even if the person hates black people. It would make the person look good, making him look like a lifesaver. If the person Atticus was not only being ridiculed, but was also being threatened, then I think he would rethink his position on the Tom Robinson case.

-Charlie Switzer

Max Wiese said...

When Atticus decides to defend Tom Robinson in To Kill A Mockingbird, he makes a decision based more on the defense of hi morals. This inevitably leads to the questions: What should be thought of first, our morals or the well being of our family?
Naturally, I would say to think of the well being of family before our morals. It is important to think of others, but would you donate when you yourself are in need? Although, this situation is a little different than the normal circumstances. Atticus wants his kids, Scout and Jem, to learn by example about equality. This leans his decision towards defending Tom Robinson, especially with Scout’s behavior of late. Although, he cannot ignore that he lives in a backward, racist society. Taking on this case endangers himself and, more importantly, his kids. I think Atticus made the right decision for him in this situation because even though it endangers his family, there should be nothing too harmful done to his children and they could learn an important lesson from it.
In this situation I would like to think that I choose the right thing to do and defend him, but I cannot know for until I am placed in the same position as Atticus. If had children and live in the same time period and region I would at first accept the case. I would do so to set a good example for my kids. Although, the minute anyone threatened my kids I would (of course kill them) highly consider dropping the case. If I did not drop the case I would send my children far away to live a relative for a while until the case was over for their safety. What would you do Mr.Kefor?

Mr. Kefor said...

Max- I'll offer a response after all of the students do.

Anonymous said...

I think that people should do what they think is right, not what other people think they should do. But, family is more important so you should take into consideration what is going to happen to them. Before Atticus made the decision of defending Tom Robinson, he should have thought of if his family would be made fun of. It would be a hard decision to make.

-Eric Sylvestre

Anonymous said...

Depending on the situation it could be better to decide on moral or safety of yourself and your family. In the book Atticus decides to defend Tom Robinson. In this situation, it was right to decide to defend Robinson. The only threat that he faced was ridicule for his decision, which if you strongly believe in what you’re defending shouldn’t be enough to get to you. If the situation was life threatening or could harm your family, then you shouldn’t do it. Your family’s well being and your own should be ahead of trying to defend whatever it is. Once you have proved what you’re trying to, if your family is harmed in the process it isn’t worth it. Family should come before moral.

-Mike Costa

Anonymous said...

I believe that morals are important although the safety of your family should come first in the case of Atticus Finch. He had good reasons for defending Tom Robinson such as honor, and self respect, but he should have considered not only the feelings of his family, but also their physical well being. The story takes place in a time where most people were racist, and by Atticus defending a black man this would give them a good reason for them to harm him, or his family. Also his family would most likely be made fun of, and harassed by the townspeople. It would be allright if Atticus had just put himself in danger, and humiliation, but Atticus also put his family into a bad situation without even consulting him. On the other hand if Atticus did not take Tom Robinsons case that would make him just as bad as all the other ignorant people that pose a threat to him, and his family. I believe that morals are extremely important if you are the only one at risk for your decision. If i made a decision for my morals that only affected me i would do it if i felt strongly enough about it, but if i put my family, or friends at risk i would probably not do it. In the end i believe that it is better to keep your family from risk.

justin st. jean

Anonymous said...

I believe that it is important that if you make your own decision you also have to think about the dangers of your decision. By thinking throughly about your decision enough you will be able to find out if your choice is a good one. In the novel, Atticus decided to take this trial and he did it without discussing it through with his family. I don't believe he made the right decision in every way because his family was damaged by his actions. If he did think it more throughly then his children wouldn't be traumatized every time they step out of the house. I think that he should have talked it over with his family before he made his decision and i think when the children found this out they were appalled.

This is only one situation, and in different cases sometimes it is alright to make and defend your own decision. Examples are like your sexuality, your friends, and your hobbies. People may not always like your decision but in cases like these you don't need to think about others opinions because it is your life.
- Brendan Curtin

Anonymous said...

I do not feel that peoples morals are nearly as important as defending ones family. I would defiantly take care of my family and make sure they are safe. I would still defend some one of a different race even if it resulted in being made fun of because it would be what I feel was right, but back then it was a lot more intense so defending Tom Robinson would be really risky because those hard core racists would try to break their windows like the great Marten Luther King. Also I think they would treat him like a black person in the time and segregate him from every one else. I think later on in the book he will be alienated from the rest of the towns people. So overall I would defend him but I would do it secretly by not being mean or not participating in the criticism or not get involved in the situation by keeping my mouth shut even if I thought he didn’t do it I would get beat up for what he did if I defended him and especially if it turns out that he is guilty and I would feel like a dirt bag. So overall if this ever happened today I would get involved but I would try to stay out of it for the sake of my family back then because they are insane.



-Ben Lenhart

Anonymous said...

In everyday life there are morals. We learn from them and know what’s the difference from right and wrong. In To Kill a Mocking Bird Atticus is in a situation where he has to think and ask himself what the right thing to do is; defend Tom robinson, or follow the actions of the others around him and help his family. Atticus discovers that the right thing to do is that it’s sometimes ok to help others.. I think Atticus had made the right decision of helping tom Robinson. Atticus had defended him because he believed Tom was innocent and deserved to get out of the trouble he isn’t even involved with.

On the other hand Atticus had other problems of his own that might have been more important than helping tom out with his situation. If I was in his situation I would help my family and friends first, because I don’t think anybody or anything could be more important than my family and friends and I think others think the same.It would be different though if my family and friends were just fine and then I would go out of my way to help others that are in need such as Tom in To Kill A Mocking Bird.
- Bianca Nixon

Anonymous said...

Obviously, morals are really important, but if your morals put others (especially people close to you) in danger then you should probably reconsider your decision. Majority of the time your decisions will not put others in real physical danger, so generally I think that you should stick with your morals. But, if on the off chance that one of your decisions does put you or someone else in physical danger I think that depending on the severity of the danger, you should abandone your morals.

jill wry

Anonymous said...

It is very important yo stand up for what you believe which is what I think Atticus did. Of course I think Atticus puts his children first which i thonk any father would do. If Atticus did not take Tom Robinson's case his kids might think that it is a bad thing to stand up for a black man which many people thought at this time in the south. It does really affect his children especially in school were alot of the kids call their dad a bad name. Atticus tells his children not to let it get to them but it does sometimes. I think he did tyhe right thing.

Anonymous said...

People should always stand up for what they believe in. Atticus believes that he could defend an African-American man throughout the novel. As a father, to stand up for Tom Robinson was a good decision to make. His children will look up to him for that decision instead of not going through the standing up of Atticus to a black man. Both morals and family are important. But, when you know what you want to stand up for and believe in, you shouldn't have to think twice about that. Family is a very important part of a decision, but in the decision Atticus made he was thinking for himself. Also, to defend Tom Robinson could change the way African-American men live. If Atticus belives he can stand up for a black man, without his family involved, then he should go for what he believes.

-Val Hall

Anonymous said...

When it comes to people's morals and the well-being of themselves and their families, both are ultimately equally determinant in the decisions that are being made. Each come "in play" in different situations. In Atticus' situation I personally think his morals should come before the well-being of his family. Though his children are being bullied and teased about their father defending Tom Robinson, a black man accused of raping a white women, they need to undergo hard situations like this. Atticus taking the case will help Jem and Scout build a stronger relationship with one another and their father. It will teach them both a special lesson about life to help them later in harder situations. Standing up for what you believe in shows that you are confident and have strong convictions. Not taking the case may have showed others that Atticus was racist, which he isn't, so he stood up for what he believes is right.

As well as following your morals, the safety and well-being of ourselves and our families is also important. Because this story was set to be in the 40's, the safety for Atticus' children was very high. People who didn't agree with his decision could take their anger out his children and even himself. Since he took the case, Atticus has to be smart about his own, Jem's and Scout's actions.

Courtney Williams
Block. F

Anonymous said...

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee is a very interesting and a lot of the time racial book. When Tom Robinson went on the rape trial, Atticus Finch was the lawyer who believed him and proved that he was not a racist to his son and daughter. His job is to help Tom Robinson, but his heart is to protect his family. If he drops out it will put a damper on his life and beliefs.
Tom Robinson is an African-American man who was accused of raping Mayella Ewell. Atticus who went in so far with this trial has a choice to make because his son and daughter are getting picked on and harassed at school and just in general. So Atticus I think he should stick to his guns and keep fighting with the case because if he didn’t he would have to live with being a racist for the rest of his life and he would have to live with an innocent man in jail for a very long time for something he didn’t do.
If Atticus dropped out of the trial it would tell his kids that giving up in something you believe in is okay. Also that there father could not handle the pressure in this whole case and gave in to all the racial people in Maycomb, which would mean that he was a racist also. His family would get through all this but I don’t think Atticus could get through it if he dropped out of the trial.
If Atticus Finch dropped out of the rape trial of Tom Robinson it would crush him and show his kids that he has no will power. His kids will get through the cruel and harsh things they go through but if Atticus dropped out they would even get more bad things done to them.
-Mike Twitchell

Anonymous said...

Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” concerns the trial of an African-American man, Tom Robinson, accused of rape. Throughout the novel, Lee focuses on standing up for what you believe. People should always stand up for what they believe without depending on other peoples’ opinions, cruelty, and differences.

To start, morals are very important. In making decisions, following morals is what most people do. From my own sense, I learned that cheating is always wrong. I have learned that through senses of people taking credit for other peoples work. No one knows right from wrong, until the decision is set. Personally, I always think of a decision before I make it and think of the good and bad consequences it could make. If it makes more bad consequences then good, it is usually a bad decision. Atticus knew that he was making the right decision since someone was accused of something he didn’t do. If a white man was blamed, this decision wouldn’t be a big deal. An African-American man being accused is a different case, and Atticus believed that he could get this man out of trouble. Making the decision to defend him was standing up for what he believed in.

Secondly, family is also important in decisions. Jem and Scout were getting harassed around town for the way Atticus has chosen to defend an African-American. Cruelty was taking over to Jem and Scout. They can’t even go into the town without getting glanced at and pushed around. Just because there father is Atticus, and he is defending Tom Robinson, everyone thinks of them as bad people. Atticus had to think about this before choosing to defend him. He didn’t want his children to be bullied at for a long period of time. Family comes very important in decisions, but Atticus had to stand up for what he believed. He knew that Tom Robinson didn’t rape Mayella, a 19 year old girl. He uses this evidence to go to trial with a witness to stand up for what he believes.

Finally, Atticus taught his children not to quit. Since children look up to there parents, there father is a very important person to them. To pick the decision to defend on what he believes in and standing up for someone, is a great thing to do. If Atticus knew that Tom Robinson didn’t do it, he can’t just quit and let it all down. He knew what he had to do, and he thought that trial was the perfect way to overcome this case. Other peoples’ opinions are not needed because Atticus knew what he had to do, and will defend Tom Robinson the best he can.

-Val Hall

Anonymous said...

I believe that someone’s morals are very important, but I also believe that when it comes to someone that is close then it changes. In the novel To Kill a Mockingbird Atticus decides to defend Tom Robinson. I could understand why Atticus might choose to do this; no one else would defend Tom. I think that Atticus is doing a good thing to help him. On the other hand i think it is unfair to Jem and Scout because they are getting treated unfairly. The kids have nothing to do with the situation, so I think it’s unfair to them. To me Atticus is doing the right thing by defending him, but then again i don’t think its fair to Jem, and Scout.

-Ashley Gookin

Anonymous said...

I honestly think when it comes to morals I think it depends on the situation if you want to put your self in a bad postion like that. Like if your in a situation were you could lose your job and your job isn't that important to you then go for it. But if your in a postion where its life or death and its not really worth it. I wouldn't go for it. If i were in Atticus' shoes i would deff go for it because i think it would be the right thing to do because if hes innocent then he should be proved innocent.

--Annie Ledbetter

Anonymous said...

I think that Atticus was right to defend Tom Robinson. Even though he knew that he would probably be discriminated and his family would be ridiculed he did the right thing. i think that by defending tom he should that racism was not acceptable and that people shouldn't blame things on black people just because they are not the same color as you. By defending him he showed scout and jem how good it can feel to help someone whos innocent and show them that they are all people no matter what people say. I think that his morals are good in sense that even though rascism in his nature and in his surroundings he defends Tom.
Tyana James
Block F
05/15/08

Sara. said...

One thing I have noticed is that with most people and the actions they do is that most act upon both equally. Personally, I do the same. Although there are circumstances where it is crucial to choose either, during everyday life most people tend to go for putting everyone else before themselves. I used to always put everyone’s needs in front of my own and would therefore get nothing I wanted done and get walked on. Quite recently, actually, I started to put myself before others (which I should have done all along) and people have begun to think that I am selfish- no, I am not! All that I’m trying to do is do what I believe in, which is what Atticus did. If Atticus had not taken Tom Robinsons’ trial; it’s quite obvious that he would have felt guilty and out of place because he failed his moral values. Following through with defending Tom Robinson appeased his morals, and showed the other residents of Maycomb that you have to defend what you believe in if you are going to get anywhere in life.

Sara. said...

One thing I have noticed is that with most people and the actions they do is that most act upon both equally. Personally, I do the same. Although there are circumstances where it is crucial to choose either, during everyday life most people tend to go for putting everyone else before themselves. I used to always put everyone’s needs in front of my own and would therefore get nothing I wanted done and get walked on. Quite recently, actually, I started to put myself before others (which I should have done all along) and people have begun to think that I am selfish- no, I am not! All that I’m trying to do is do what I believe in, which is what Atticus did. If Atticus had not taken Tom Robinsons’ trial; it’s quite obvious that he would have felt guilty and out of place because he failed his moral values. Following through with defending Tom Robinson appeased his morals, and showed the other residents of Maycomb that you have to defend what you believe in if you are going to get anywhere in life.

Sara. said...

One thing I have noticed is that with most people and the actions they do is that most act upon both equally. Personally, I do the same. Although there are circumstances where it is crucial to choose either, during everyday life most people tend to go for putting everyone else before themselves. I used to always put everyone’s needs in front of my own and would therefore get nothing I wanted done and get walked on. Quite recently, actually, I started to put myself before others (which I should have done all along) and people have begun to think that I am selfish- no, I am not! All that I’m trying to do is do what I believe in, which is what Atticus did. If Atticus had not taken Tom Robinsons’ trial; it’s quite obvious that he would have felt guilty and out of place because he failed his moral values. Following through with defending Tom Robinson appeased his morals, and showed the other residents of Maycomb that you have to defend what you believe in if you are going to get anywhere in life.

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