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ATTICUS THE HUMBLE. Atticus Finch is a humble man: Besides being the finest attorney in Maycomb, he has several hidden talents as well. Yet, Atticus never resorts to boasting or highhandedness. In Chapter 10, both of the children question Atticus' worth. He is not exciting, he's too old to play football, and he has a boring job. When Miss Maudie declares that Atticus is "the best checker player in this town," Scout can't believe it, since "Jem and me beat him all the time."
But when Tim Johnson comes walking "lopsided" down the street, and the call goes out to Sheriff Tate to deal with the rabid dog, he instead turns the matter over to Atticus. Reluctantly taking the rifle and throwing his glasses onto the street, Atticus puts a bullet just above Tim's eye. Jem and Scout are amazed.
"What's the matter with you, boy, can't you talk?" said Mr. Tate, grinning at Jem. "Didn't you know your daddy's--"
"Hush, Heck," said Atticus, "let's go back to town."
Jem sat in numb confusion...
"Forgot to tell you the other day that besides playing the Jew's Harp, Atticus Finch was the deadest shot in Maycomb County in his time."
"Dead shot...," echoed Jem... "He never said anything about that..."
"... People in their right minds never take pride in their talents," said Miss Maudie.
Jem later tells Scout not to mention anything about the shooting to Atticus. Jem learns from Atticus' silence that there is nothing to be proud about being a crack shot--a killer.
"I wouldn't care if he couldn't do a blessed thing... Atticus is a gentleman, just like me!"
ATTICUS THE UNDERSTANDING. No one in Maycomb shows a greater respect for his fellow man than Atticus. He always believes that you must see things from both sides to understand the situation. When Scout wants to quit school after Miss Caroline declares Atticus unfit to teach her how to read, Atticus "completed his examination of the wisteria vine," and explains to Scout:
"First of all," he said, "if you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you'll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view--"
"--until you climb into his skin and walk around in it."
This theme becomes one of the most important lessons taught by Atticus, and both of his children take it to heart, later using it to try and understand others whose actions are different from their own.
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