In chapter 10 of "To Kill a Mockingbird," why does Heck Tate not want to shoot Tim Johnson?

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ladyvols1's profile pic

ladyvols1 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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On page 104 Lee writes, "Take him Mr. Finch."  Mr. Tate handed the rifle to Atticus; Jem and I nearly fainted,

"Don't waste time, Heck," said Atticus. "Go on."

"Mr. Finch, this is a one-shot job."

Atticus shook his head vehemently:"Don't just stand there, Heck! He won't wait all day for you -"

"For God's sake, Mr. Finch, look where he is! Miss and you'll go straight into the Radley house!  I can't shoot that well and you know it!"

"I haven't shot a gun in thirty years-"

Mr. Tate almost threw the rifle at Atticus.  "I'd feel mighty comfortable if you did now," he said.

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smaglione | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

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I don't think that Heck Tate necessarily does NOT want to shoot Tim Johnson.  I think that Heck Tate bows to the better shooter in this case.  Atticus was nicknamed Ol' One Shot back in his day because of his sharpshooting skills.  Heck is the kind of person who is not afraid to do what is right and that means choosing the right person for the job, which in this case means Atticus.  Besides, the danger of Heck missing means that a rabid AND injured dog is still running around and Heck just will not allow that on his watch.


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