There is sometimes a thin line between noble, benevolent character and character that aspires to do good but ultimately fails. Although the man of character who cares about others may look similar to the man without character who cares, their decisions under pressure reveal who they really are. Atticus in Lee Harper's To Kill A Mockingbird and George in John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men are two such men, Atticus being the man of character who cares and George being the man without character who cares.
In To Kill A Mockingbird, Atticus comes under pressure as a man of character for defending Tom Robinson, a black man, but he braves the pressure and does his best to win the case. Heck tries to persuade Atticus not to accept the case, telling him that he has got "everything to lose," but Atticus is determined and answers, "Heck, that boy might go to the chair, but he's not going till the truth's told" (Lee 35). Atticus' character comes forth in this scene in two ways. First, he is more concerned about the truth than about his reputation and what he stands to lose, and second, he puts giving Tom a fair trial above his own comfort and convenience. Atticus might have given in to the crowd at the jail when Mr. Cunningham tried to get him to step aside from the jail door, but he stood his ground saying, "You can turn around and go home again, Walter" (Lee 39). Here, Atticus demonstrates that fear of what might happen to him as a result of his doing the right thing does not motivate his actions. Instead, as a man of character, he is motivated by the commitment to do what is right and just. As a man of character who cares about Tom, Atticus values the ideals of truth and justice above personal concerns such as acceptance, safety, and prosperity.
In Of Mice and Men, George cares about Lennie, but his caring is limited by his lack of character and becomes self-serving rather than selfless as Atticus' is. W