In every truly good work of literature, there is a main character who always seems to be the antithesis of a common person. Often times, this character is a protagonist who struggles to stand by their own beliefs, but persists no matter what the cost. A perfect example of this type of protagonist would be Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. A black man, Tom Robinson, is convicted for a crime which the evidence clearly indicates he did not commit. As the wise sage of the town, Atticus is appointed to the job of defending the poor man. One so grounded in his moral beliefs and dedication to justice, Atticus will fight for what is right, no matter what the cost.
Because Atticus is very well respected and known for his great legal expertise, the dismayed townspeople ask him if he may reject such an undesirable posting. Atticus very well could turn down this job, knowing that being in such a position that he will more than likely lose. But, knowing the continuing injustices of wrongly accused and convicted black men in the South, Atticus struggles his way through the locals’ complaints to fully stand and defend Tom Robinson. Atticus hopes in proving Tom’s innocence, people’s eyes will be awakened to the fact color does not indicate a criminal. It is about time, he believes, that “white trash”, the cold-hearted, ignorant people who pass the blame for the atrocities that they have done themselves onto others, needs to be stopped. Unfortunately, Atticus is fairly certain the jury will not agree.
Atticus goes into the case quite prepared. It doesn’t take him long to gather enough evidence to prove Tom not guilty. Even the Judge is impressed by his work and he even believes Atticus. The jury votes otherwise, although they take a long time to come to this decision. Truly, the extra time spent serves to simply serve as a mock, to create the false suspense that there was truly a moral struggle occurring behind closed doors. Still, strangely enough, the people who mocked Atticus about defending a black man simply forgot about the whole thing. It seems Atticus had struggled for nothing.
To make matters worse, Tom Robinson tries to escape prison and is fatally shot running through a field. Now, it seems that the true evildoer will never come to justice. Fortunately, there is a sort of justice brought to the situation. The true killer attacks Atticus’ children, severely wounding Atticus’ son. In the process, the attacker is killed by a shadowy neighbor who comes to the rescue. In the end, it appears that the invader stabbed himself, though this isn’t completely believed. The neighbor who came to the Finch family’s rescue is never revealed.
Though Atticus didn’t succeed at defending Tom Robinson, he is satisfied that justice was inevitably served. In a way, his efforts did lead to exposing the true guilty person, who is killed in the process of trying to get revenge on Atticus. However, the price for this justice is high for the Finch family; his son is seriously hurt and his daughter quite shocked. His son’s arm gets badly broken and his daughter is left scarred with the memories of this horrific incident, undoubtedly events which will affect them for the rest of their lives. This incident also leaves a great scar on Atticus, knowing his actions had led to harm to his children. However, Atticus is able to live with the sad ending to this case, since he knew he’d only done the right thing.
Atticus Fitch is likely one of the strongest characters in all of literature, a man who stands up for what he believes is right, no matter the cost, even if the eventual price for justice is too high. To see such a great man as Atticus struggle so hard for justice, fall short, and live with the consequences of his defeat, is an unforgettable tale we should not soon forget.