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Why does Jem get "paralyzed" after Atticus shot the mad dog in To Kill a...

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isabellabella3 | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 26, 2011 at 12:08 PM via web

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Why does Jem get "paralyzed" after Atticus shot the mad dog in To Kill a Mockingbird?

Tim Johnson - Mad dog

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bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted May 26, 2011 at 12:20 PM (Answer #1)

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The entire chapter centers around the "feeble" father, Atticus Finch. His children find him to be a boring man, who "can't do anything." They feel he has no great skills, aside from his lawyering, and Atticus comes up short when he is compared with his children's friends' parents. However, when Tim Johnson, the mad dog, comes staggering up the street, it is Atticus who is thrust the rifle by Sheriff Tate to take the dog down. When Atticus, in one swift motion, pulled back the lever, aimed, and put a bullet between Tim's eyes, Jem (and Scout) were stunned. Atticus, nearly blind in one eye, had performed a miracle in their eyes. What they did not know was that Atticus had been the best shot in the county when he was a boy, and he had not lost his touch. He had not told his children about this skill since, as Miss Maudie points out,

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

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