After Atticus shoots the mad dog, Jem says, "Atticus is a gentleman, just like me!" What does this quote tell the reader about Jem's attitude towards his father?

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bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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Jem's quotation specifically addresses the humility found in Atticus' character, a trait which had not become evident to his children until Chapter 10 of To Kill a Mockingbird. The chapter begins with Jem and Scout seeming somewhat ashamed of their "feeble" father, who had few interesting attributes and "can't do anything." But they later discovered that Atticus had one astounding ability of which he had never spoken. When the mad dog, Tim Johnson, came walking down the street, it was Atticus who was thrust the rifle by Sheriff Tate in order to take the dog down. Jem and Scout were "in a fog" as Atticus took aim and put a bullet between Tim's eyes. It was the first time "One-Shot" Finch--the deadest shot in Maycomb County--had fired a gun in 30 years. 

"Looks like he'd be proud of it," I said.

It was Miss Maudie who explained to the children why Atticus had never spoken of this "gift of God."

"People in their right minds never take pride in their talents," said Miss Maudie.

When Scout told Jem that she couldn't wait to tell the kids at school, Jem ordered her to keep quiet. Jem recognized that Atticus' humble nature was part of his makeup, and he decided that it would now be part of his as well. He proudly told Scout that

"I wouldn't care if he couldn't do a blessed thing... Atticus is a gentleman, just like me!"

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