Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird

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In the novel, To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee, the main characters: Atticus, Scout and Jem were faced with many losing battles such as Tom Robinson's case, the "mad dog incident" and Mrs. Dubose's addiction to morphine. This builds on the theme of there are things in life that won't go your way. The book takes place in the 1930's or 1940's in a small town in Alabama called Maycomb. The novel takes us through the life and perils that the main characters undergo and teach us about growing up and being mature.

To begin, one of the losing battles in the novel was the mad dog incident. This event started on page 96. Jem and Scout encountered Tim Johnson, a "liver-colored bird dog, the pet of Maycomb" (pg. 96). He was sick and was pretty much crawling. The children ran to Calpurnia, their cook who identified the dog as a mad dog…and after that, people immediately rushed home and the street the Finches lived on was deserted. Atticus (Scout and Jem's father) and Heck Tate (the sheriff) soon arrived to see what was going on. The dog was shivering, its jaw opened and shut and was advancing slowly towards Atticus, Heck, and the kids. Heck immediately handed his rifle to Atticus who had hesitated to shoot at the dog. "I haven't shot a gun in thirty years—" (pg. 100) was Atticus's response. Heck gave Atticus his rifle and told him "I'd feel mighty comfortable if you did now," (pg. 100). Atticus took the gun and slowly took aim at the dog with tough concentration. His glasses slipped off his nose and broke…but he paid no attention. "With movements so swift they seemed simultaneous, Atticus' hand yanked a ball-tipped lever as he brought the gun to his shoulder. The rifle cracked." (pg. 100). Atticus shot at the dog and ended its life…and the dog "didn't know what hit him" (pg. 100). This shows that the incident was a losing battle to the dog because the dog couldn't stop itself from dying. It pretty much had to die since it was ill and was in great pain. Atticus didn't want to shoot the dog at first but he knew he had to protect the town and free the dog of its pain. Because the dog didn't have a choice about whether or not it was going to die, it is an example of a losing battle.

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