In "To Kill a Mockingbird", how does Jem realize that Atticus is a hero to him when he shoots the dog?need some quotes or e.g. to prove that jem considers atticus a hero, especially when...

In "To Kill a Mockingbird", how does Jem realize that Atticus is a hero to him when he shoots the dog?

need some quotes or e.g. to prove that jem considers atticus a hero, especially when he shoots the dog.

Asked on by midz

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mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Like a scene from "High Noon," the street is deserted as the children, Calpurnia, Mr. Tate, and Atticus Finch wait for the mad dog to come along:  "Nothing is more deadly than a deserted, waiting street" remarks Scout.  As the dog staggers into sight, Mr. Tate confirms it is mad.  The sherriff, who has been holding a rifle, hands it to Atticus: "Take him, Mr. Finch."   Atticus refuses, telling Tate not to waste time.  Mr. Tate retorts,"For God's sake, Mr. Finch, ...I can't shoot that well and you know it!"

Atticus, who will not teach his boy to shoot, and who has not fired a rifle in thirty years, takes off his glasses, aims, and shoots the dog cleanly.  Speechless, Jem sits in "numb confusion."  Finally, impressed by his father's skill, he says how his father relaxed and "it looked like that gun was a part of him...an' he did it so quick...I hafta aim for ten minutes 'fore I can hit somethin'." Contrary to what he and Scout have  thought, their father can do something! (Previously, they had criticized him.)

When Scout says that Atticus should be proud of his abilitiy, Miss Maudie replies, "People in their right minds never take pride in their talents."  To this remark Jem gives much thought.  Then, he tells Scout not to say a word at school about what happened.  At this point Jem proudly realizes the integrity of his father:  "I wouldn't care if he couldn't do a blessed thing."

ms-mcgregor's profile pic

ms-mcgregor | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

Jem had never known that Atticus was a great marksman until he shoots the dog. Jem realizes that one of Atticus' great strengths was his humility and self-control. Atticus could have bragged all his life about how great a marksman he was, but he waited until his skill was truly needed until he showed his talent. To Jem, this is the mark of a true hero.

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