In Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, what parallels does Scout see between the mob-scene and the mad dog scene?

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estoverl's profile pic

estoverl | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Assistant Educator

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Scout is home in her bed and drifting off to sleep after having unknowingly dispersed the mob scene outside the jail. Her mind thinks over the preceding events at the jail. As she pictures Atticus folding the newspaper and pushing his hat back on his head to address the crowd, the image in her sleepy mind transforms to Atticus standing in the road, pushing his glasses back on his head and preparing to shoot the mad dog.

The danger of the mad dog situation coupled with Atticus' calm, deliberate reactions during that situation, leads Scout to connect the two events. Suddenly, she is overwhelmed and begins to cry with the realization of the danger that could have resulted from the events at the jail had Atticus not reacted as he did.

mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Both the scene of the mob of angry men who accost Atticus Finch at the Maycomb jail and the scene in which Tim Johnson, the dog belonging to Harry Johnson, a bus driver who made runs to Mobile on the coast, illustrate what Miss Maudie expresses to Jem and Scout, "If your father's anything, he's civilized in his heart." 

For, in both situations, Atticus does not want to act:  He desires not to be the one to kill Tim Johnson, telling Sherriff Tate to shoot, nor does he have any desire to go to the city jail to protect Tom Robinson.  In fact, in both cases, Atticus, who hates guns and violence, acts out of conscience and duty to defend the innocent in both situations.  In both cases, Atticus acts as Jem notes in Chapter 10:  "Atticus is a gentleman, just like me."

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