In To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, an African American man is falsely accused of rape by Mayella Ewell, a poor woman who lives on the outskirts of Maycomb County, Alabama. Atticus Finch, lawyer and father of the main characters, Scout and Jem, is chosen to defend the poor black man, Tom Robinson. Atticus, being white, defies his peers by choosing to try and prove Tom innocent. His effort is futile though, and Tom is found guilty because of a prejudiced white jury. In the back of his mind, Atticus knew that his labors would not be fruitful, as he states, "real courage is doing something even though you know you're licked before you begin, but you see it through no matter what" (112). Atticus displayed a real act of courage because he knew Tom would be found guilty and did his best anyway.
Atticus firstly displayed this courage by putting in many hours researching what really happened that day and also forming a good, persuasive argument for the upcoming trial. Atticus needed someone to look after his children while he was at his office, so he asked Aunt Alexandra, who was obliged to do so. Explaining this to his daughter, Scout, who wouldn't have understood his sacrifice, he said, ""We felt it was time you needed- well, it's like this Scout," Atticus said. "Your aunt's doing me a favor as well as you all. I can't spend all day with you, and the summer's going to be a hot one"" (128). One may argue that this was a feasible reason for Aunt Alexandra's arrival, but why then had this not happened earlier? It seems odd that Aunt Alexandra would just arrive at their house without Atticus discussing this matter with the children before.
Atticus also displayed his enduring will by protecting Tom from a lynching mob at the jail one evening. "In the light from its bare bulb, Atticus was sitting propped against the front door" (151). He sat out there, knowing he would be putting himself in harm's way by disregarding the mob.