In "To Kill a Mockingbird," what talent does Atticus have that greatly impresses Jem and Scout?

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gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

At the beginning of Chapter 10, Scout laments about Atticus's old age and lack of talent. Later that day, the children spot a rabid dog staggering down the main road of Maycomb. Sheriff Tate quickly arrives with their father and gives Atticus his gun to shoot the dog. Atticus reluctantly takes the rifle and kills the rabid dog in one shot. Jem and Scout witness their father's expert marksmanship ability and are greatly impressed. Jem is left speechless, and Miss Maudie explains to him that Atticus's nickname growing up was Ol' One-Shot. The children wonder why Atticus never bragged about his talent, and Miss Maudie tells them that Atticus is a humble, civilized man. Atticus even refuses to hunt because he feels like God gave him an unfair advantage over living beings when he is holding a rifle. Atticus's talent to accurately shoot a rifle greatly impresses Jem and Scout. 

lhc eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Atticus is an excellent marksman, something the children never knew about their father until the day the rabid dog came down the street.  Atticus had never talked about his ability to shoot, and as far as Jem and Scout were concerned, their father was just a bookish old guy who put food on the table and read the newspapers at night.  However, the day the dog came, Atticus stepped into the street and killed it with one well-placed shot (although he claimed he was a little to the left), leaving Jem and Scout stunned and amazed.  Later Maudie tells the kids that they shouldn't be ashamed of their father, that he has plenty of talents and skills, and that they should be grateful that he is their father and that he acts his age.

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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