To Kill a Mockingbird

Heck Tate Character Analysis

The sheriff in Maycomb. He’s a tall and slender man who wears cowboy boots. He carries a rifle, but he insists that he’s not as good of a shot as Atticus, though this is never confirmed. While Scout never gets a good or nuanced understanding of how Mr. Tate feels about black people more generally, Mr. Tate does try to protect Tom Robinson and gives testimony in court that supports Atticus’s argument that Mr. Ewell, not Robinson, beat Mayella. He later shows that he does believe in justice when he declares that Mr. Ewell fell on his knife (when really Arthur Radley killed him in defense of Scout and Jem), thereby protecting Arthur from unwanted attention or legal trouble.
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Heck Tate Character Timeline in To Kill a Mockingbird

The timeline below shows where the character Heck Tate appears in To Kill a Mockingbird. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 10
Prejudice Theme Icon
Small Town Southern Life Theme Icon
Atticus and Mr. Heck Tate , the sheriff, arrive in the car. Calpurnia explains that Tim is just twitching, not... (full context)
Courage Theme Icon
Small Town Southern Life Theme Icon
...sight of Atticus and goes rigid, Atticus swiftly lifts the gun and shoots. Tim crumples. Mr. Tate ’s inspection reveals that Atticus shot a bit too far to the right. Atticus isn’t... (full context)
Courage Theme Icon
Atticus and Mr. Tate head back to town. Miss Maudie silences Miss Stephanie and tells Jem that Atticus used... (full context)
Chapter 15
Growing Up Theme Icon
...pleading, Dill’s mother allows him to stay. After this, things go downhill quickly. One evening, Mr. Tate knocks and asks Atticus to come outside. Scout knows that men only talk outside for... (full context)
Prejudice Theme Icon
Small Town Southern Life Theme Icon
...Atticus if “he” is in the jail, tell Atticus to move aside, and share that Mr. Tate is out in the woods on a phony call. (full context)
Chapter 16
Prejudice Theme Icon
Growing Up Theme Icon
Small Town Southern Life Theme Icon
...usual, looks to be asleep. Scout hopes she can watch him eat a cigar as Mr. Tate takes the stand. (full context)
Chapter 17
Prejudice Theme Icon
Scout tries to ask Jem about the Ewells, but he turns her attention to Mr. Tate ’s testimony. Scout doesn’t know the solicitor, Mr. Gilmer, well, as he’s from Abbottsville and... (full context)
Prejudice Theme Icon
Small Town Southern Life Theme Icon
...asks why he didn’t call a doctor and asks if Mr. Ewell agrees with what Mr. Tate said about Mayella’s injuries. He asks the court reporter to read them word for word,... (full context)
Chapter 18
Good, Evil, and Human Dignity Theme Icon
Prejudice Theme Icon
Small Town Southern Life Theme Icon
...She agrees that she screamed and fought and says that she doesn’t remember much until Mr. Tate arrived. (full context)
Chapter 21
Good, Evil, and Human Dignity Theme Icon
Courage Theme Icon
Small Town Southern Life Theme Icon
...way she did in February, when the street closed up, the mockingbirds were silent, and Mr. Tate told Atticus to shoot Tim Johnson. Mr. Tate returns and calls the court to order.... (full context)
Chapter 22
Courage Theme Icon
Small Town Southern Life Theme Icon
...Jem asks if there’s anyone else, and Miss Maudie points out that the black neighborhood, Mr. Tate , and Judge Taylor stepped up—Judge Taylor didn’t give Tom’s case to the newest lawyer,... (full context)
Chapter 28
Good, Evil, and Human Dignity Theme Icon
Small Town Southern Life Theme Icon
...Atticus ushers him in, Aunt Alexandra receives Scout, and they call for Dr. Reynolds and Mr. Tate . Scout asks if Jem is dead, but Atticus assures her he’s just unconscious. Aunt... (full context)
Good, Evil, and Human Dignity Theme Icon
Mr. Tate arrives as Dr. Reynolds leaves, and he and Scout enter Jem’s room. Atticus explains that... (full context)
Chapter 29
Good, Evil, and Human Dignity Theme Icon
Prejudice Theme Icon
Growing Up Theme Icon
Scout thinks that Atticus looks somehow old. Mr. Tate asks to look at Jem’s injuries while Scout tells them what happened, and Aunt Alexandra... (full context)
Chapter 30
Prejudice Theme Icon
Growing Up Theme Icon
...will come to the county court, but Jem is only 13 and it was self-defense. Mr. Tate asks incredulously if Atticus really thinks that Jem killed Mr. Ewell, and he insists that... (full context)
Good, Evil, and Human Dignity Theme Icon
Courage Theme Icon
Small Town Southern Life Theme Icon
Scout watches in fascination as Mr. Tate and Atticus argue. She’s not quite sure what exactly they’re fighting for or about. Mr.... (full context)
Good, Evil, and Human Dignity Theme Icon
Courage Theme Icon
Small Town Southern Life Theme Icon
Atticus asks where Mr. Tate got the switchblade. Coolly, Mr. Tate says he confiscated it from a drunk man, and... (full context)