Life is a constant battle between right and wrong, and what comes in between is fear. It is either constantly limiting people, resulting in some cowardice acts by the jury and Aunt Alexandra, or it is motivating them to do the honorable thing like Atticus and Jem. A single fear can greatly impact not only one’s life but an entire community and this is seen through the weakness or bravery of many of the characters in To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee, demonstrating that our reputations are built on the way we handle our fears.
To begin with, fears are meant to be overcome, but Harper Lee shows us a number of characters, like the jury and Alexandra, that succumbed to them instead, and in turn, they influenced many of Maycomb's townspeople to do the same. After being presented with bullet-proof evidence and Tom Robinson's convincing testimony, the unlawful jury took Mayella's side in the verdict ...view middle of the document...
This effects the entire town because a quick decision to hurt an innocent rather than face a fear will not only prove cowardliness, but also encourage racism within the community, demonstrating how easily a single reaction can determine someone's entire reputation. Always worrying about what others think of you is another fear left buried by Aunt Alexandra when she blames Atticus for staining the family's name. She broadcasts her racist and insecure thoughts to her grandson who repeats them to Scout: "Grandma says it's bad enough he lets you all run wild, but now he's turned out a nigger-lover, we'll never be able to walk the streets agin. He's ruinin' the family, that's what he's doin'." (91) Since the Finch family name is all Alexandra has left to maintain, she fears losing it and instead of moving past her insecurities, she hides behind them. Aunt Alexandra criticizes Atticus' kindness towards the black community, impacting Francis' easily impressionable thoughts along the way. It is this small commentary that establishes Alexandra as a coward, proving how quickly a reputation can be destroyed when fears are not handled correctly.
On the other hand, Harper Lee doesn't leave too many knots untied as there were many characters including Atticus and Jem who almost walked through fire to conquer their fears for the good of others. Although many things influenced Atticus to take Tom's case, the biggest motivator was his children, as he was afraid of disappointing them. At the end of chapter 10, Uncle Jack suggests to pass the case on to someone else and Atticus replies, "But, do you think I could face my children otherwise?" (97) In this case, his fear of what his children will think if he doesn't stand up for the black community when they need it, inspires him to be Tom's lawyer and do the best he can to change the illogical stereotypes. Although he didn't win the trial, his efforts was the beginning of a fair and unbiased town because the some of the community members believed his evidence, and admired his courage. This is the perfect example of how