You need to have read thru chapter ten of To Kill a Mockingbird to respond to this topic.  If you have NOT read thru chapter ten, please do NOT read further (as it will spoil/give away information you haven't read yet).

  • In chapter ten we read about Tim Johnson.  If you think about it, this chapter seems really random.  All that actually happens is that Atticus shoots and kills an old dog with rabies before it can bring harm to anyone.  This chapter doesn't really seem to connect with the ongoing story of the children's interactions with Boo Radley, nor the trial of Tom Robinson (which the reader has only been told a little about here and there).
  • So what is the overall purpose of this chapter?  Why did Harper Lee find it necessary to write a chapter about poor Tim Johnson and to develop Atticus' character more?  (We learn that Atticus is an extremely skilled marksman and was even called "One-Shot" when he was younger, and even though he's an extraordinary talent, he chooses to keep that talent "under wraps.")  Many people say that the poor dog Tim Johnson is symbolic of something... if that's true, what does Tim Johnson and this chapter really represent?
  • Explore the meaning of this chapter and Tim Johnson.

Tags: TKaMB

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I think the underlying message of this book was revealed in this chapter; the children receive the rifles they've been asking for for Christmas and Atticus reminds them to "shoot all the bluejays [they]want[...]but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird"(Lee 119). This was considered unusual to Scout, who expressed that Atticus had never warned them of sins before, so she confided in her confusion to Miss Dubose who explained to her, "Mockingbirds...don't do one thing but sing their hearts out for us" (Lee 119). I took this theme as meaning that it was wrong to take an innocent thing and turn it into something bad, something broken, or something dead, like it seemed many of the characters in this novel represented. I think the full meaning of this chapter will come to light later in the book, but for now, we can relate it to past/present happenings in the story so far.
I think Tim Johnson could represent a number of things but mainly the personality of Maycomb: how, just like a rabid dog, they lash out against anything different from them, tear them to shreds, vilify them, in the same way the dog was screeched about throughout the neighborhood and eventually killed. The residents of Maycomb look at any alien figure as a disease that must be snuffed out immediately, made quick, clean work of. An example of this is how everyone, even his own family members scandalized Atticus and verbally attacked him with names like "n****r lover" just for doing his job.

First off I feel like in the chapter Atticus was pressured to shoot the dog. In this chapter Atticus shoots the dog but the way he was getting ready to shoot him proves he was nervous. I believe there is multiple reasons to the chapter one being that you can do a bad deed if someone tells you too. Another is to not judge others. The dog caused the community no harm he just wanted medical attention. "He walked erratically as if his right legs were shorter than his left leg"(lee, 93). The dog had a disease/was injured and everyone though he wanted to hurt them. However, the dog did nothing and Atticus shot him dead. I think you can relate this to multiple things. One being that immigrants represent the dog and they need help from America they come here and then the government sends them back. All in all, I believe this chapter was delivering a message/moral  to the reader.

(Lee,96) ^^^^^^^ for the top response.

     However, Tim Johnson created fear in the neighborhood. And although he had not hurt anyone yet, everyone thought that he will. Atticus shot him out of FEAR for his family because he was put in a position that forced him to predict a situation where the "mad dog" was going to hurt his children or someone else in the neighborhood. Also, the neighborhood seems to have some sort of past relations with "mad dogs" that caused them to act in the way that they did. Why else would Calpurnia go into extreme measures to warn everyone? Why would the sheriff force the gun into Atticus's hand when he knew that he did not want to associate himself with a gun of any sort? They also warn the children that, "[Tim Johnson] is just as dangerous dead as live," so something must have ignited this mindset from past events (Lee 128). Thus, there is reason behind their actions. Atticus doesn't even want to talk about it, implying that there is guilt behind his actions--not pride--  that he knew, deep down, that that was not the right action. But, i do agree with you when you compare it to immigrants. Past events have got people manipulated into thinking that its their fault, when they have done nothing wrong. 

I think that it was very necessary to write about Tim Johnson because it showed how the people thought about a dog that did not hurt them in anyway, but they still thought he was very frightening. In this chapter Calpurnia acknowledged this rabid dog and took immediate action. Everyone was very afraid from this so called ''mad dog'', and had to make a choice. Atticus had to shoot the dog to protect everyone that were terrified. I think that Atticus was very pressured to do this and had many doubts after shooting Tim Johnson. I think that Tim could symbolize many things throughout this book and Tim could also represent a mockingbird because he is someone that did not hurt anyone and just wanted to create peace but other people thought otherwise.   

What message do you think this chapter was delivering to the reader?

Hmm... This topic is really interesting. I think Atticus Finch shooting the dog Tim Johnson is possibly foreshadowing future chapters-- maybe the trial? Maybe Tim Johnson signifes Tom Robinson (hey! similar names) and although Atticus tries his hardest to keep Robinson's seemingly innevitable fate hidden and under wraps-- like his past-- it seems to always find a way to come out? This is a really interesting symbol.. It can go in many different directions and i'm really excited to find out what it actually means.

I think the message of this chapter is to show that when people are pressured it can lead to committing bad deeds. Also I believe the dog was just trying to get attention because he needed help. And if I can relate this to something it will be the minorities trying to get help and equal rights but the others are just hating on them and not doing anything to help. In the text it talks about the dog and it says "He walked erratically as if his right legs were shorter than his left leg" (Lee96). This evidence clearly shows that the dog needed help. And nobody did anything to help him and they killed him. Thus, the purpose of this chapter is to show that is not going to hurt to help the people that need it.

This chapter was made to shine a little light on Atticus and let us know more about his background. Also, to show that he quit being a marksman. There is probably something that happened to Atticus when he used to shoot a gun. Also, he never told Scout and Jem about him being called One-Shot. Jem had told Scout that,"I reckon if he'd wanted us to know it, he'da told us. If he was proud of it, he'da told us"(Lee130). This shows us that Atticus is most likely not proud that he is a good shooter. Furthermore, when Atticus had to shoot the dog, he hesitated and didn't want to shoot it. Thus, this chapter made us know more about Atticus and Tom Johnson was there to help us know more about Atticus.

Tom Johnson is an important factor in the book because he assists in showing/teaching us more about Atticus. When the mayor tells Atticus "Mr. Finch, this is a one-shot job" (Lee 95). He is foreshadowing to when Atticus was younger and was known to be the best shooter around town. Now, this came as surprise to the kids because Atticus has never brought this up even when he gave them the air rifles. To add on, Atticus at first refused to shoot the rabid dog-Tom Johnson- but then shot him because of persistence from the mayor. Atticus didn't tell Jem and Scout about his past with shooting because he wasn't proud of it. This is proven later in the chapter when Jem goes to talk to his father and Heck, the mayor, starts to tell Jem about Atticus's nickname, "One-Shot Finch", Atticus stops him by saying "Hush, Heck" (Lee 97). This goes to show that Atticus doesn't want to reveal parts of his past to his children. But sometimes you can't control what's going on around you or the circumstances you're under and you unknowingly show a part of yourself you were trying to hide. Tom Johnson was the reason Atticus was forced to kind of reveal his shooting past with kids and rekindle the fire of it.

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