To Kill a Mockingbird Questions and Answers
by Harper Lee

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What four things did Atticus do that Jem and Scout had never seen before?

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One of Harper Lee's major themes throughout the novel deals with gaining perspective. There are several scenes throughout the novel that relate to this theme, and portray Scout and Jem witnessing their father behave in unfamiliar ways. In Chapter 10, Jem and Scout are shocked to see their father shoot and kill Tim Johnson, the rabid dog, in one shot. They had never witnessed their father shoot a gun before, and are awestruck at his marksmanship abilities. In Chapter 13, Atticus attempts to teach his children about their family history. Atticus is nervous and unsure as to what to say because his sister, Alexandra, had put him up to it. Scout comments that her father never talked like this or had thoughts like this before. Atticus' stern tone and insistence on discussing their family history were behaviors Jem and Scout had never witnessed before. In Chapter 20, during Atticus' closing remarks, the children view two behaviors from Atticus that they had never seen before. Before Atticus begins his closing remarks, he unhitches his watch and chain, takes off his coat, loosens his tie, and unbuttons his vest. Scout and Jem are horrified and think their father is getting undressed. In reality, Atticus is just making himself comfortable and acting casually to appeal to the jury he is about to address. The second thing the children witness is Atticus perspire. Scout comments that Atticus was one of those people who never sweat before, and this was something new to the children. The are simply witnessing their father physically reacting to the stressful environment and sweltering Alabama heat.

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