In TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, small-town lawyer Atticus Finch (played by Gregory Peck) chooses to defend Tom Robinson (played by Brock Peters), a black man accused of raping a white girl in the Depression-era South. To do this, he exhibits the mind of Christ in order to show his children Jem and Scout. Join us as we discuss these Christian themes and so much more on this episode of the Finding Christ In Cinema episode.
For your convenience you will find each podcast segment at the time referenced below:
- 00:00:00 – Introduction and Previous Episode Recap
- 00:03:58 – Movie Discussion
- 00:17:52 – Christian Themes in TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD starring Gregory Peck
- 00:47:41 – Listener Challenge and Feedback
- 00:51:04 – Well-mannered Frivolity
- 00:52:59 – Upcoming
Atticus Finch and the Mind of Christ
Atticus Finch has been both blessed and cursed with the task of defending Tom Robinson in court, and it is no easy task. Tom Robinson is a black man accused of raping a white woman in the Depression-era South, so the odds are certainly against him. Atticus, however, knows the truth of the matter – that Tom is innocent – and persist in seeking justice for Tom.
After the unsuccessful court case, Atticus and the Finch family walk home. Atticus, ever hopeful, quietly thinks to himself as Scout, Jem, and Dill keep sullenly to themselves. Sheriff Heck Tate pulls up and seeks private counsel with Atticus, so Miss Maudie sits with the children on the porch. As Jem sits in complete remorse, Miss Maudie offers this bit of encouragement: “There are some men in this world who are born to do our unpleasant jobs for us.” The words fall on uncaring ears as Jem simply replies, “Oh, well.”
Just because Jem isn’t encouraged by Miss Maudie’s words, however, doesn’t mean that we as the audience can’t be. The fact is that Atticus “lowers” himself into the ostracizing hands of Bob Ewell and the majority of the town of Maycomb for the sake of Tom Robinson, and in doing so, he demonstrates the mind of Christ. Atticus had pity for Tom because he knew that Tom was about to face a rigged system, so Atticus did everything in his power to try to save him.
Scout, Jem, and Reputation Over Riches
Atticus is adamant about raising his children right, and he takes every opportunity that he can to pour his wisdom into them. One lesson that he keeps demonstrating is to not break a bruised reed (See Isaiah 42:3). Atticus does not want to break anyone’s spirit, so he maintains a constant demeanor of gentleness and kindness.
When Walter Cunningham can’t compensate Atticus with cash for some legal work, he pays him instead with collards and hickory nuts. When the sickly Mrs. DuBose starts calling Scout an “ugly girl,” Atticus tells her that she and her garden look like as good as a picture. Even when Bob Ewell spits in his face, Atticus simply wipes it off and drives away. He will not break a bruised reed, and he will not quench a flickering flame.
By continually being kind and loving, Atticus shows Scout and Jem that it is better to have a good reputation rather than a fully stocked bank account. He shows them that it is better to seek justice and suffer for it than to be rich while maintaining the status quo, especially one as degenerate as shown by Bob Ewell and his comrades.
TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD Key Texts
Let these passages be your guide as you watch TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD on your double-decker couch with friends and loved ones.
Philippians 2:1-5 NLT
Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose. Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.
To put it frankly, Jesus was eccentric in that He was not the center of His own universe. He divested Himself of His original glory and came down to save us from our own destructive natures. He washed his disciples feet, he embraced lepers, and he was nailed to the cross so that we wouldn’t have to be spiritually dead.
Atticus has this same mindset. He is willing to stand up to Bob Ewell’s shaming and the angry mob’s fury and take their wrath so that Tom Robinson doesn’t have to. The only difference, of course, is that Tom Robinson wasn’t guilty of the sins with which he was charged, and we are guilty. How much more poignant does that make Atticus’s choice to defend Tom? How much more necessary does that make Christ for us?
Proverbs 22:1 NLT
Choose a good reputation over great riches;
being held in high esteem is better than silver or gold.
Funny how God uses peculiar characters of all kinds in His own blessed narrative to get His message across. King Solomon was the son of King David – “a man after God’s own heart” – and yet both of them had their ups and downs with God. It’s strange to think that King Solomon led such a warped life and was still able to pen some holy wisdom.
That Atticus Finch embodies this proverb speaks to many things, specifically his reputation and influence among the community. It’s why he is able to be kind toward Walter Cunningham and gentle to Mrs. Dubose. It’s why he’s able to teach Jem and Scout everything he can.
Finding Christ In Cinema is the show where we discover Christian themes in movies past and present. Join us and together we’ll dig deeper into the silver-screen classics of yesteryear as well as the box-office hits of today. Brought to you by the Great Commission Transmission Network. View the complete show notes – including links to articles discussed – by clicking here.
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