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Help with quotes for To Kill a Mockingbird Who is speaking, who is the subject, what...

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treohs | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted December 6, 2010 at 7:09 AM via web

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Help with quotes for To Kill a Mockingbird

Who is speaking, who is the subject, what lessons are learned? 

"People in their rights minds never take pride in their talents."

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lynnebh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted December 7, 2010 at 4:39 AM (Answer #1)

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I will answer one of your questions. The first quote is uttered by Miss Maudie. She is talking to Jem and Scout after Atticus has just shot a rabid dog, Tim Johnson, with one shot. Jem and Scout have no idea that their father is such an excellent marksman. Sheriff Tate and Miss Maudie remember way back in the day when Atticus was well known as an expert marksman all over Maycomb. He currently does not keep guns or go hunting, so the children have no idea what a good shot he is. This quote occurs in the beginning of the story when the children are not very proud of their Dad's lack of "manly" talents, such as shooting. They know he is a well-respected attorney, but they rather wish that he had more talents that they could brag about. This is why they are surprised when he hesitate over shooting the dog, after Heck Tate urges him to take the shot. The sheriff tells Atticus that he is the only one that has any chance of killing the rabid dog.

When Atticus fells the dog with one shot, the children are amazed, and this is when Maudie tells them that people in their right minds never take pride in their talents. She is telling the children, as she often does, that their father is a remarkable man. He is a humble man, not prideful, and this is why they did not know about his talent as a marksman because he did not brag about it. Maudie admires Atticus and it is often she who tells the children about their father's many qualities.

It is significant in the story because it builds upon the character of Atticus, foreshadowing what is to come. He is the first one the judge thinks of to defend the falsely-accused black man, Tom Robinson. The judge knows that Atticus is a man of integrity, a humble man that does not brag about his accomplishments. Everyone in Maycomb respects Atticus for this, and slowly, as his children grow, they see it as well.

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