Based on the mad dog shooting incident and with reference to other incidents in To Kill a Mockingbird,comment on the change in the children's perception of their father as the novel progresses.

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Up until the day Atticus faces off against the mad dog, Scout considers her father "old" and "feeble..."

... which we felt reflected upon his abilities and manliness.  (Chapter 10)

Their friends' fathers have exciting jobs like driving a "dump-truck" or being a druggist; Atticus wears glasses and "didn't do anything." But Jem and Scout will soon have a change of heart about their father when Tim Johnson--Harry Johnson's dog--slowly heads up their street. The children think Sheriff Tate has lost his mind when he tosses his rifle to Atticus. Time seems to stand still as Jem and Scout watch in a "fog" as Atticus puts a bullet right between Tim's eyes. Their shame turns to amazement and then jubilance upon learning that Atticus's nickname used to be "Ol' One Shot." Jem also learns a lesson in humility when Miss Maudie explains why Atticus has never mentioned his marksmanship skills.

"People in their right minds never take pride in their talents."  (Chapter 10)

The children have grown older and wiser and by the time the trial begins, they have come to better recognize Atticus's stature in the town. The name of "Finch" is whispered about the town, and Atticus is the talk of the schoolyard. The crowds that flock into Maycomb for the trial come, at least in part, to see Atticus in action, and the children eventually come to see that their father is "no run-of-the-mill man"--in or out of the courtroom. Jem wants to follow in Atticus's footsteps as an attorney, and so, too, Scout. They learn as children to seek out Atticus for advice, something will still practice as adults:

... We were far too old to settle an argument with a fist-fight, so we consulted Atticus.  (Chapter 1)

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

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