Please consider the following question from To Kill a Mockingbird:
Scout says, "The full meaning of the night's events hit me and I began crying." What parallels has she seen between the mad dog and the mob scenes?
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She has seen her father at his best, at his moments of greatest challenge. This is what the night in front of the mob was like, as it was when Atticus was shooting the mad dog. These were moments of Atticus' life that she didn't know would exist. Each one revealed parts of his character. She learns of Atticus' humility and humbleness through these experiences. She also learns of his strengths. She learns of how the town depends and relies on Atticus to protect and defend them physically, emotionally and morally. Atticus is always the man who for the town stands in between good and evil.
This time, she is realizing that he has been the one to deal with defending Tom Robinson's trial, knowing that it was ill-founded. She is realizing that no matter how hard Atticus works, it feels like little achievement. This comes very clear when Tom is shot.
Alexandra too realizes that Atticus can never do enough for this town and it kills her to know that.
In To Kill a Mockingbird, Scout says the following quote at the beginning of chapter 16:
"The full meaning of the night's events hit me and I began crying" (156).
Scout is referring to the events of chapter 15 when she naively and impulsively runs into the middle of a lynch mob. She winds up talking her way through an awkward and dangerous situation, which at the time, must have filled her with adrenaline that carried her through the moment. Once she is safely home in bed, though, she thinks about "the night's events" and cries because she realizes how dangerous the situation was for everyone involved.
When comparing the mad dog scene in chapter 10 with the mob scene in chapter 15, there are some parallel situations between them. First of all, Atticus is in the center of the action in both scenes as he faces life-threatening conditions. However, not only does Atticus find himself in the middle of two similarly dangerous situations in these two scenes, but he's not there to save his own life, necessarily. He is there to protect the lives of others. For example, when Atticus shoots the mad dog, he protects the neighborhood. Specifically, he protects the Radleys because the dog heads right for their house. Then, on the night in front of the mob, Atticus is there to protect Tom Robinson.
In both situations, Atticus places his own safety in the path of danger for the benefit of someone else. Scout must feel overwhelmed to realize that her father is a hero because he is willing to sacrifice himself for the sake of others. Furthermore, Scout must be crying because she realizes just how dangerous the mob was that night. The mob was serious about killing Tom Robinson! Her father could have been hurt or killed in the process, too! Maybe she would have acted differently if she would have known just how dangerous "the night's events" were. Fortunately, because of her naivety, everyone goes home safely at the end of the night.
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