Atticus and his heroic journey

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A hero is often considered to be someone born with outstanding ability, courage, and bravery but are they born that way? Some heroes you are familiar with have forged their strength and character through their experiences. Their bravery and courage are developed in spite of fear and human failings. Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz must travel with her companions to develop qualities of courage, heart and brain before she can return home. In the film Titanic, Rose must learn to take hold of her own life and make it truly her own. The steps in a hero’s journey were developed by American Joseph Campbell and I have put a simple version of them below.

Steps in a Hero’s Journey:

  1. The hero receives a call to go on a journey for a specific purpose.
  2. The hero fights for truth and justice against the forces of evil.
  3. The hero has special qualities that make him the right person for the task.
  4. The hero learns something about himself in the process of the quest and gains strength and wisdom.
  5. Those on the side of evil try to prevent the hero from reaching his goal.
  6. The hero may be tested and have to display courage and skill.
  7. Before reaching his goal the hero faces a final dangerous and difficult ordeal.
  8. The hero reaches his goal and is rewarded and remembered for his achievement.

Now this model fits Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird as for most people he is a truly heroic character. He stands up for what he believes in despite the personal cost to himself and his family. Atticus tells Scout that if he didn’t defend Tom Robinson he wouldn’t be able to hold up his head because “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.” When Atticus agrees to represent Tom he is set on a journey – a hero’s journey.


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