Atticus explains to Jem, “I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do” (Lee 149).
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This quote relates to the courage of doing the right thing even though one might lose or fail in the end. Doing the right thing often means personal sacrifice. Atticus notes that the case for Tom Robinson would fail even before it began because of the racism so entrenched in the white community. Just giving the case his best shot is progress regardless of the outcome.