How does Atticus influence Jem in the mad dog scene of To Kill a Mockingbird?

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

At the beginning of Chapter 10, Jem and Scout are ashamed of their father for being so "feeble." But by the end of the day, both of the children recognize that their father has a special talent of which he has never told them. To their amazement, Sheriff Tate hands his rifle to Atticus, who puts down the mad dog with a single shot between the eyes. Jem and Scout are shocked that Atticus has never bragged about this skill, but Miss Maudie explains to them that

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

It is Jem's first lesson in humility, and he tells Scout not to brag about the event at school. He understands that Atticus's humble nature is just part of him being

"... a gentleman, just like me."

Jem has talked before about following in Atticus's footsteps as a lawyer, but this may be Jem's first step toward a desire to emulate Atticus's more gentlemanly attributes.

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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