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ADJECTIVES THAT DESCRIBE HECK TATE
Tall. Sheriff Heck Tate is described as being "as tall as Atticus, but thinner." (Chapter 10)
Polite. Tate addresses everyone as "Mister" or "Miss," including Atticus. Interestingly, Atticus always calls Tate by his first name, yet the sheriff always addresses Atticus respectively as "Mr. Finch."
Competent. Tate is not a brilliant man: He answers incorrectly at first when Atticus asks him which side of Mayella's face is bruised, and he doesn't seem to understand the importance of there being bruises around her entire neck. He also falls for the old "snipe hunt" ruse on the night that Tom nearly gets lynched. But he knows Atticus is the right man for killing the mad dog, and he immediately determines what happens on Halloween night after he finds Bob Ewell's body and listens to Scout's story.
Humble. Heck is a local boy who admits that "I'm not a very good man... I may not be much..." (Chapter 30)
Authoritative. Tate takes charge at the end of the story, deciding that he must make the decision as to what is best for the community--and for Boo Radley. Tate will call Bob's death self-inflicted, knowing full well that Boo must have stabbed Bob. But Tate realizes blaming Bob is best for everyone--Boo, Jem, Atticus, and the town--and he will stick to his version of the story.
"...I'm still sheriff of Maycomb County, and Bob Ewell fell on his knife." (Chapter 30)
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