What is an indirect quote that shows Atticus's courage?To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Certainly, Atticus's bravery is exhibited in Chapter 10 when takes Mr. Tate's rifle after so many years of not having held one and shoots Tim Johnson, the rabid dog.  When Mr. Tate, the sheriff just cannot try, feeling he will not be accurate for the one shot opportunity to kill the dog and insists that Atticus shoot, Atticus defers, saying that he has not fired a gun in years. However, as he senses the urgency of his shooting the dog, Atticus takes aim:

With movements so swift they seemed simultaneous, Atticus's hand yanked a ball-tipped lever as he brought the gun to his shoulder....The rifle cracked.  Tim Johnson...didn't know what hit him.

Afterwards, Miss Maudie asks the children if they still think Atticus cannot do anything; she explains why he never has told them before of his skill, "If your father's anything, he's civilized in his heart."

In another instance Atticus, cognizant of the fact that the prejudices of his environment will never allow justice for Tom Robinson, he, nonetheless, defends the innocent man as best he can.  After the trial, Bob Ewell threatens Atticus, saying he will "get him."  One day outside the courthouse, Bob Ewell accosts Atticus, spitting on him.  Then, in Chapter 23, the children hear this incident:

According to Miss Stephanie Crawford,...Mr. Ewell approached him, cursed him, spat on him, and threated to kill him....Miss Stephanie said Atticus didn't bat an eye, just took out his handkerchief and wiped his face and stood there and let Mr. Ewell call him names wild horses could not bring her to repeat. Mr. Ewell...inquire[d], "Too proud to fight, you n--lovin' bastard?"...Atticus said, "No, too old."

Scout refuses to believe that Atticus is anything but brave.  Else, why would he have shot the rabid dog that "wandered their neighborhood?" she asks. When Atticus returns home he explains to the children that Bob Ewell had to take his anger out on somebody and he would rather it be he than that "houseful of children out there."


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To Kill a Mockingbird

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