In To Kill a Mockingbird, Jem and Scout are somewhat disappointed that Atticus is not as athletic as some other fathers. What happens to change their minds?
Scout and Jem find Atticus pretty boring. He is a bit older than their friends’ fathers, and he works a lot. This makes him seem decidedly uncool.
Atticus was feeble: he was nearly fifty. When Jem and I asked him why he was so old, he said he got started late, which we felt reflected upon his abilities and manliness. He was much older than the parents of our school contemporaries, and there was nothing Jem or I could say about him when our classmates said, “My father—” (Ch. 10)
Atticus does seem dorky. He wears glasses and works all the time. He is not most kids’ idea of a cool dad. However, Scout and Jem get a wake-up call when a rabid dog comes into the neighborhood. It turns out that their father is the only one who can stop it.
Atticus does not like guns. He tells his children never to point them at people, and to shoot only nuisance birds and not innocent ones like mockingbirds. Since Atticus does not have a gun or use one, the children are surprised when Sheriff Heck Tate wants him to take the shot.
“Take him, Mr. Finch.” Mr. Tate handed the rifle to Atticus; Jem and I nearly
“Don’t waste time, Heck,” said Atticus. “Go on.”
“Mr. Finch, this is a one-shot job.” (Ch. 10)
The children had no idea that Atticus was known as “one-shot” Finch. Even the sheriff is not as good a shot. Tate gives Atticus the gun because he knows that he will be able to shoot the dog before it gets closer. Atticus takes the shot, and drops the dog.
After this, the children see their father differently. He is a hero, and also infinitely more cool. Atticus can shoot better than the sheriff! He may be a little bit older than the other kids’ parents, but he can definitely do something. He is not old and feeble. To them, shooting a rabid dog is much more fun than talking in a courtroom.