Atticus said, “He’s within range, Heck. You better get him before he goes down the side street—Lord knows who’s around the corner. Go inside, Cal.” Calpurnia opened the screen door, latched it behind her, then unlatched it and held onto the hook. She tried to block Jem and me with her body, but we looked out from beneath her arms. “Take him, Mr. Finch.” Mr. Tate handed the rifle to Atticus; Jem and I nearly fainted. “Don’t waste time, Heck,” said Atticus. “Go on.” “Mr. Finch, this is a one-shot job.” Atticus shook his head vehemently: “Don’t just stand there, Heck! He won’t wait all day for you—” “For God’s sake, Mr. Finch, look where he is! Miss and you’ll go straight into the Radley house! I can’t shoot that well and you know it!” “I haven’t shot a gun in thirty years—” Mr. Tate almost threw the rifle at Atticus. “I’d feel mighty comfortable if you did now,” he said. In a fog, Jem and I watched our father take the gun and walk out into the middle of the street. He walked quickly, but I thought he moved like an underwater swimmer: time had slowed to a nauseating crawl. When Atticus raised his glasses Calpurnia murmured, “Sweet Jesus help him,” and put her hands to her cheeks. Atticus pushed his glasses to his forehead; they slipped down, and he dropped them in the street. In the silence, I heard them crack. Atticus rubbed his eyes and chin; we saw him blink hard. In front of the Radley gate, Tim Johnson had made up what was left of his mind. He had finally turned himself around, to pursue his original course up our street. He made two steps forward, then stopped and raised his head. We saw his body go rigid. With movements so swift they seemed simultaneous, Atticus’s hand yanked a ball-tipped lever as he brought the gun to his shoulder. The rifle cracked. Tim Johnson leaped, flopped over and crumpled on the sidewalk in a brown-and-white heap. He didn’t know what hit him. Mr. Tate jumped off the porch and ran to the Radley Place. He stopped in front of the dog, squatted, turned around and tapped his finger on his forehead above his left eye. “You were a little to the right, Mr. Finch,” he called.
Comment on how language is used to present Atticus in the extract.
For a B grade:
i. How does the image of Jem and Scout watching from under Calpurnia’s arms help present Atticus’ deed in this scene?
ii. In their exchanges (the dialogue), Atticus calls the Sheriff ‘Heck,’ but the Sheriff calls Atticus ‘Mr Finch’. What does this say about Atticus?
iii. The simile, ‘I thought he moved like a nauseating swimmer’ shows how the narrator views the scene –does this intensify the moment or soften it?
For an A grade:
i. What is the emotion of Jem and Scout as they watch the scene unfold – how does this affect the reader’s attitude towards Atticus?
ii. How do the sounds described help intensify the moment?
iii. The shooting of the dog is interspersed with short, simple sentences – what effect does this have?