What sort of person is Atticus like?Miss Maudie tell Scout that 'Atticus has 'life in him yet.' What does it mean and what is Atticus really like?

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mstultz72 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

On page 104, Scout says to Miss Maudie, "Atticus can't do anything...." Then Miss Maudie replies, "You'd be surprised," said Miss Maudie. "Theres life in him yet."

Because Atticus may be a bit older than the other kids' fathers and because he refuses to play football for the Methodists, much to the kids' chagrin, Scout thinks that Atticus has no life in him.  This is mainly due to the fact that Atticus does not reveal details of his past to his children.  He is a modest gentleman who doesn't boast; he follows Calpurnia's mantra of not telling everything you know.  Maudie knows his past and here subtly defends him.  She knows that he used to be a marksman, "One shot Finch."  So, later, after Atticus shoots the rabid dog, Tim Johnson, the kids begin to think differently.

Also, I believe this passage foreshadows the tribulations Atticus will face in the second half of the novel.  The first half details Malcolm as a lazy Southern town, so as to set up for the murder and mayhem of the second half.  Atticus will have to stand down a lynch mob, will take on a case he knows he will lose, and will have his children stalked by Bob Ewell.  By the end of the novel, surely Scout would revise her earlier statement that Atticus can't do anything. 

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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