When is Atticus mad at the children in To Kill a Mockingbird and why?

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The even-tempered Atticus rarely loses his temper with his children, but he becomes highly irritated at Jem and Scout when he discovers that they have continued to invade the privacy of Boo Radley. Atticus had previously caught them playing their Boo Radley game, but Jem denied that their play had anything to do with the neighbors. "I hope it doesn't," Atticus warned them. But the children continued with the game and then decided to try and make contact with Boo by sending him a note attached to a fishing pole that they hoped to leave in a loose shutter of the Radley house. But once again, Atticus caught them in the act, and a long lecture followed.

"Son," he said to Jem, "I'm going to tell you something and tell you one time: stop tormenting that man. That goes for the other two of you."  (Chapter 5

In the end, Atticus used an old lawyer's trick to get Jem to admit that their game involved the Radleys, and Atticus "grinned dryly." He had made his point, but he left Jem wondering if he really wanted to follow in Atticus's footsteps.

"I thought I wanted to be a lawyer but I ain't so sure now!"  (Chapter 5)

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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