Illustration of a bird perched on a scale of justice

To Kill a Mockingbird

by Harper Lee

Start Free Trial

In To Kill a Mockingbird, where in the book does Atticus show humility?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Atticus shows his humility by not mentioning or bragging about his expert marksmanship abilities to his children.

At the beginning of Chapter 10, Scout laments about her father's age and lack of interesting talents. One day, a rabid dog named Tim Johnson staggers down the main road of Maycomb and Sheriff Tate arrives at the scene with a rifle. Sheriff Tate proceeds to give his rifle to Atticus and tells him to take the shot. Atticus reluctantly takes the rifle and shoots Tim Johnson right above his left eye, killing him in one shot. Both Scout and Jem are in awe of their father's amazing marksmanship abilities, and Miss Maudie says, "I saw that, One-Shot Finch!" (Lee 61). Atticus then tells Jem not to go near the dead rabid dog, and Jem is at a loss for words. Sheriff Tate says to Jem, "What’s the matter with you, boy, can’t you talk?...Didn’t you know your daddy’s—" (Lee 62). Atticus immediately says, "Hush, Heck...let's go back to town" (Lee 62).

After Atticus leaves, Jem sits down bewildered, and Miss Maudie tells him that Atticus' nickname as a boy was Ole' One-Shot. Jem admits that Atticus never said anything about being an expert marksman, and Maudie explains that Atticus realizes that his marksmanship abilities are a gift from God. She says, "People in their right minds never take pride in their talents" (Lee 62). Later that day, Scout mentions that she can't wait to tell everyone at school on Monday that Atticus is the deadest shot in Maycomb. Jem tells Scout not to say anything because if Atticus wanted them to know about his talents he would have told them. Atticus is a humble man and never bragged about his unique talent to his children.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In what chapter of To Kill a Mockingbird can you find Atticus Finch as a humble man?

Atticus's humility is best displayed in Chapter 10 of the novel when he is summoned by Sheriff Heck Tate to kill the mad dog. "Jem and I nearly fainted" when Sheriff Tate "handed the rifle to Atticus." They were under the assumption that Atticus was "feeble" and untalented, but after he kills the dog with a single shot between the eyes, they discover that he was once a marksman with a rifle--"the deadest shot in Maycomb County." Atticus has never told them about this deadly skill, and he scolds Heck for nearly giving away his secret. But Miss Maudie feels it is best that the children know that Atticus is good for something besides creating "airtight" wills and playing the Jew's Harp. Jem and Scout are both surprised that Atticus has never told them about it--that "he'd be proud of it"--but Maudie explains that

     "People in their right minds never take pride in their talents..."  (Chapter 10)

When Scout tells Jem that she can't wait to tell all her friends about "Ol' One-Shot Finch" at school, Jem warns her to keep it to herself.

"If he was proud of it, he'da told us."  (Chapter 10)

Jem is proud of his father and his humble nature, recognizing that

"Atticus is a gentleman, just like me!"  (Chapter 10)

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on