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In "To Kill a Mockingbird," Miss Maudie says "people in their right minds never take...

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nyeahmarie | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted September 12, 2008 at 10:01 AM via web

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In "To Kill a Mockingbird," Miss Maudie says "people in their right minds never take pride in their talents." What does she mean?

In "To Kill a Mockingbird," Miss Maudie says "people in their right minds never take pride in their talents." What does she mean?

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katemschultz | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

Posted September 12, 2008 at 10:29 AM (Answer #2)

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Miss Maudie is commenting that people who are "good" or "normal" will not take excessive pride in their talents, that people should and will be humble about what they are good at.  She makes the remark in reference to Atticus' shooting abilities.  Jem and Scout never knew that Atticus was called "One-Shot Finch" or that Atticus has ever even picked up a gun.  It's because of his humility that this talent remains hidden; he never brags and Miss Maudie considers this a good quality to possess. 

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linda-allen | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted September 12, 2008 at 8:08 PM (Answer #3)

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This is a good question for the discussion board.

Not taking credit for talent might be a southern thing. It's considered bad manners to brag about your own abilities and/or talents. For instance, Grandma might be the best apple pie baker in the county, and she might win blue ribbons at the fair every year. But every time she sets an apple pie down on the dinner table, she'll say something like, "It might not be fit to eat, but here's dessert." Some people might think of this as fishing for a compliment, but it's more a matter of good manners. Remember, pride is not a virtue but a deadly sin.

Another reason why you might not be too quick to take pride in your own talents is that they're apt to be unreliable. Atticus might be a good shot today, but tomorrow he might be off his aim and not be able to hit anything. Just as sure as you brag on yourself, you make yourself out to be a liar when you fail!

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted April 10, 2011 at 7:06 AM (Answer #4)

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"Pride goeth before fall" is an old aphorism that proves true so often. As mentioned above too often a person who boasts or who takes apparent pride in a talent can suffer a mishap which will greatly embarrass him or her, or in his/her pride, he or she becomes so overly confident that something will go wrong.

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

Posted April 10, 2011 at 7:50 AM (Answer #5)

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If you are "in your right mind" then it means you are sane (and smart).  In addition to not wanting to sound like a braggart about your talents, when you talk abouthow talented you are, you are kind of opening up a challenge -- one you may not win.  You are also opening yourself up to scrutiny and critique whenever that talent comes to the fore.  It can be hard to live up to your own self-stated greatness, and many people would love nothing more than for you to fail.  The failure makes you even more the fool because you were excessively prideful in the first place. 

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