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In chapter 10 of To Kill a Mockingbird, Why didn't Atticus tell his kids that he was...

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a-2-3-4-5-6-7 | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted December 3, 2010 at 9:27 PM via web

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In chapter 10 of To Kill a Mockingbird, Why didn't Atticus tell his kids that he was once the best shot in the country"one-shot Finch"?

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amarang9 | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted December 4, 2010 at 12:36 AM (Answer #1)

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Before this event, Jem and Scout looked at their father as loving and intelligent, but weak. After learning that he has this skill, they no longer think so. Scout wants to tell others about her father being the best shot in Maycomb, but Jem won’t let her because, in his maturity, he understands why Atticus has hidden this talent from the children. Atticus is not the kind of person who would be proud of an ability which is even potentially violent (shooting).

Atticus is not one to flaunt his abilities. It is in his nature and his philosophy that violence is always a last resort. So, as part of his living example to his children, he would only use a gun in extreme situations, such as this one with the rabid dog. Atticus could easily show off his talents (shooting, checkers and so on) but another lesson he teaches the children, central to the trial, is that one should not do things just to please the majority or simply to brag that he is better than other people. One should not conform just to gain acceptance.  He does what he has to – when he has to do it. Bragging (or even showing modest pride) about a talent, especially one which inflicts violence, is completely antithetical to Atticus’ own philosophy and the lessons he wants to teach to his children.

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