For what could the mad dog be a symbol? How is the symbol developed? What is the significance of Atticus standing alone to shoot the mad dog? What do the children learn? And more importantly perhaps how are they taught?
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The mad dog symbolizes racism. Like the dog, racism is just as dangerous dead as alive. Racism is an idea, and it is difficult to kill an idea. No matter what Atticis accomplishes in Tom Robinson's trial, racism is still a danger to the community.
Atticus turns out to be not so "boring" as Scout and Jem first thought. They had felt that Atticus was not like other younger fathers who played football or baseball. Instead, Atticus preferred to read. When the rabid dog comes down the street, Atticus kills him with one shot and the children see a new side of their father.Miss. Maudie asks the surprised children,
"Didn't you know his nickname was Ol' One-Shot when he was a boy?"