In To Kill a Mockingbird, why doesn't Jem want Scout to talk about Atticus shooting Tim Johnson to her friends?

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amarang9 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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This is in Chapter 10, the same chapter where Atticus (and Miss Maudie) tell Scout that it is a sin to kill a mockingbird. Scout mentions that this is the only time Atticus says it was a sin to do something. So, Atticus only shoots Tim Johnson because he has no other choice. Atticus didn't want to kill the dog; but he had to. So, he certainly wouldn't brag about something he didn't want to do. Atticus is too humble to brag about his skills. Even as a lawyer and a father he never brags; he just lives his life, let all others think what they may.

More to the point, Atticus is not the kind of man who would want to brag about a violent skill; especially to his children for whom he would want to set a good example. As Jem starts to mature, he recognizes this and finishes the chapter by saying, "Atticus is a gentleman, just like me!" Jem no longer cares if Atticus is older than the other boys' fathers. This is significant as a sign of Jem's maturity. Scout wants to brag about her father. But Jem learns another of this novel's lessons which is that if you do the right thing, it doesn't matter what others think. Jem recognizes that it is unnecessary and pretentious to brag. 

 

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