Impact (The Sixties in America)
Although frequently referred to as a regional novel, To Kill a Mockingbird quickly proved to have universal appeal. A best-seller, it received mixed critical reviews but was awarded the Pulitzer Prize and soon became one of the most widely read contemporary novels in U.S. high schools. Objections to its mild profanity, inclusion of racial epithets, depiction of hypocrisy in religion, and reference to rape led to occasional short-term censorship in public schools and libraries but ultimately only increased the popularity of the novel. Written during one of the most turbulent periods of race relations in the United States, To Kill a Mockingbird effectively reflects and indicts the social code of the South, which conflicted with established law in failing to provide justice for all, regardless of race. As race relations were being tested in both the courts and the streets, readers responded emotionally and intellectually to a literary work that advocated equal justice for all humanity.
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Places Discussed (Cyclopedia of Literary Places)
Maycomb. Seat of Alabama’s fictional Maycomb County, located twenty miles east of Finch’s Landing. Through its citizens from professional, middle, and lower classes, Harper Lee analyzes the values and problems common in small southern towns during the Great Depression. Scout learns from Atticus to reject the racial and social prejudices of the town without hating its inhabitants. By walking in the shoes of others both before and after the Tom Robinson trial, she respects Mrs. Henry Lafayette Dubose, who is determined to cure her morphine addiction before dying, and she appreciates Judge Taylor, Sheriff Tate, and farmer Link Deas, all of whom try to give Tom Robinson as fair a trial as possible in Maycomb.
Radley place. Home of Arthur (Boo) Radley and his family; located near Atticus Finch’s home. Community rumors about the seclusion of Boo in his home and about his violent actions provide mystery and excitement for Scout, Jem, and Dill during their summers. Actually seeing Boo or enticing him to leave his dark, isolated home becomes a goal for the children and a lesson in tolerance and acceptance. Through the gifts they find in the hollow tree in the Radley yard, they learn of Boo’s tentative attempts at friendship with them. When Boo saves their lives by killing Bob Ewell in the woods behind the school, they learn to respect his privacy and his desire to remain hidden from the probing...
(The entire section is 681 words.)
Form and Content (Masterplots II: Women's Literature Series)
To Kill a Mockingbird is narrated by Jean Louise Finch, nicknamed Scout, who recalls her childhood spent in the sleepy Southern town of Maycomb, Alabama. Set in the Great Depression of the 1930’s, part 1 of the novel mainly consists of Scout’s everyday trials and tribulations with her father, Atticus; her older brother, Jem; their black housekeeper, Calpurnia; and their neighbors. Scout and Jem are becoming more aware of the adult world around them. Atticus Finch desires his children to be more tolerant in a town that has certain deep-rooted prejudices. Scout and Jem begin this struggle for understanding when Dill, a precocious nephew of their neighbor Stephanie Crawford, visits one summer. Dill proposes that they try to make Boo Radley come out of his house. Fascinated by the town’s rumors that Boo is insane, the children make several attempts to lure the mysterious recluse out into the open.
When Dill leaves in the fall, the children’s ideas concerning Boo fade. Scout encounters the school system for the first time. On the first day of school, she gets in trouble with her new teacher because Atticus has been teaching Scout to read; the teacher insists that Scout learn to read “properly”—that is, in school. From this encounter, Atticus teaches Scout about compromise—they will continue to read together every night, but Scout must learn her teacher’s reading methods as well— and about the value of seeing things from another...
(The entire section is 658 words.)
Context (Masterplots II: Women's Literature Series)
Published in 1960, To Kill a Mockingbird has become an American literary classic. It won the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 and was made into an Academy Award-winning film in 1962, with Gregory Peck playing Atticus Finch. The novel also won the Brotherhood Award of the National Conference of Christians and Jews in 1961 and was Best Sellers magazine “Paperback of the Year” in 1961.
Although Harper Lee has not published a major work since To Kill a Mockingbird, the book retains its place in American literature for its telling of a regional story with a universal message. Also, although it is not a main issue, the novel features a feminist struggle. Even though the main focus of the novel remains Scout’s growing recognition of the prejudices of her surroundings, Scout struggles for an understanding of womanhood. Through the strong, lyrical voice of this independent tomboy, the reader sees a young girl unsure of her place in Southern femininity. Scout struggles with how to fit into the world of “ladies,” as exemplified by her Aunt Alexandria, and how to retain the independence that she has had as a child. Men still hold the main arena, and their world seems much more interesting to Scout than the world of caretaking that her aunt enjoys. Only Miss Maudie, Scout’s outspoken neighbor, offers a good model for Scout. Maudis is independent and speaks her mind, yet she enjoys her baking and tending her garden.
Lee has been...
(The entire section is 360 words.)
Civil Rights in the 1950s
Despite the end of slavery almost a century before To Kill a Mockingbird was published in 1960 (President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863), African Americans were still denied many of their basic rights. Although Lee sets her novel in the South of the 1930s, conditions were little improved by the early 1960s in America. The Civil Rights movement was just taking shape in the 1950s, and its principles were beginning to find a voice in American courtrooms and the law. The famous 1954 U.S. Supreme Court trial of Brown v. the Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas declared the long-held practice of segregation in public schools unconstitutional and quickly led to desegregation of other public institutions. However, there was still considerable resistance to these changes, and many states, especially those in the South, took years before they fully integrated their schools.
Other ways blacks were demeaned by society included the segregation of public rest rooms and drinking fountains, as well as the practice of forcing blacks to ride in the back of buses. This injustice was challenged by a mild-mannered...
(The entire section is 1017 words.)
To Kill a Mockingbird is set in the 1930s in Maycomb, Alabama, a town so small and insular that, according to Scout, her father is "related by blood or marriage to nearly every family in the town." Scout devotes the very beginning of her narrative to a description of her southern heritage, revealing that her English ancestor, Simon Finch, a slaveholding, enterprising skinflint, founded Finch's Landing, a cotton plantation where generations of Finches, including Atticus, grew up. Twenty miles east of Finch's Landing, Maycomb is home to old southern families whose roots, traditions, and biases run deep. Each family name carries its own accepted identity in town: the Haverfords, for example, have "a name synonymous with jackass"; the Cunninghams are considered poor but very proud; and the Ewells are cruel and lazy.
The town itself is slow, hot, and uneventful in Scout's memory; the men work from morning till evening, the women stay at home, and the children go to school and then play outside. In Maycomb, says Scout, "Men's stiff collars wilted by nine in the morning. Ladies bathed before noon, after their three-o'clock naps, and by nightfall were like soft teacakes with frostings of sweat and sweet talcum...There was no hurry, for there was nowhere to go, nothing to buy and no money to buy it with, nothing to see outside the boundaries of Maycomb County."
Racial segregation is an accepted way of life for the townspeople. The blacks in...
(The entire section is 630 words.)
Chapter 1 Questions and Answers
1. Describe Calpurnia as Scout depicts her in Chapter 1.
2. What does Dill dare Jem to do?
3. What events led to Arthur’s being shut into the house?
4. Pretend you are writing a description of Maycomb for a travel magazine of the 1930s. Describe the town in detail.
5. The townspeople of Maycomb have some fears and superstitions about the Radley Place. Describe these fears and superstitions.
6. Whose idea was it to make Boo come out of the house?
7. How important is bravery to Jem?
8. Mr. Connor is described as “Maycomb’s ancient beadle.” What is a beadle?
9. What goal do the children plan to achieve before the end of the summer?
10. Describe some of the customs of the town of Maycomb.
1. Calpurnia has been the cook for the Finch family since Jem was born. Scout describes Calpurnia as all angles and bones, nearsighted, and owning a wide, hard hand which she used to discipline Scout. Scout says Calpurnia is “always ordering me out of the kitchen, asking me why I couldn’t behave as well as Jem . . . and calling me home when I wasn’t ready to come.”
2. Dill dares Jem to touch the Radley house.
3. Arthur and some other boys formed a group which was the nearest thing that Maycomb had ever had to a gang. They hung around the barbershop, rode the...
(The entire section is 518 words.)
Chapter 2 Questions and Answers
1. Who is Scout’s first grade teacher?
2. What is the Dewey Decimal System?
3. What events lead to the conflict between Scout and Miss Caroline?
4. Why is Mrs. Blount, the sixth-grade teacher, angry with Miss Caroline?
5. How does Scout learn to read?
6. The students in the class show some prejudice against Miss Caroline when she tells the class she is from Winston County, Alabama. Explain this prejudice.
7. How does Miss Caroline contradict herself about the use of imagination?
8. How does Miss Caroline contradict herself in her views on teaching reading?
9. How does Scout learn to write?
10. Describe the Cunningham family.
1. Miss Caroline is Scout’s first-grade teacher.
2. The Dewey Decimal System is a way of arranging library books and materials. It is not a way to teach reading, as Jem mistakenly explains.
3. Scout finds disfavor with Miss Caroline, first of all, when she reads aloud from The Mobile Register and from My First Reader. Later, when Scout tries to explain the Cunningham philosophy, she angers Miss Caroline even more.
4. Miss Blount says the sixth grade cannot concentrate on their study of the pyramids because of the noise in the first-grade class. She is angry with Miss Caroline Fisher for allowing—and...
(The entire section is 632 words.)
Chapter 3 Questions and Answers
1. Describe Burris Ewell.
2. Little Chuck Little tells the teacher that Mr. Ewell is “right contentious.” What does this mean?
3. What events lead to Burris’s leaving school before the day is over?
4. Why does Atticus say that Scout is not to mention the compromise they made when she goes to school?
5. What is a cootie?
6. Why does Walter think he almost died the first year in school?
7. Why does Atticus say Scout should ignore Jem in the tree house?
8. When Walter gets near the Finch house, Scout says he “had forgotten he was a Cunningham.” What does she mean?
9. What does it mean to “climb into his skin and walk around in it?”
10. Tell what a compromise is and give an example.
1. Burris was the filthiest human Scout had ever seen. His neck was dark grey and his nails were black into the quick. He was rude to the teacher and said that she could not make him do anything he did not want to do.
2. He meant that Mr. Ewell was quarrelsome.
3. First, Miss Caroline saw a “cootie” on him. Then she dismissed him for the rest of the day to go home and wash his hair in lye soap and kerosene; she also reminded him—in front of the class—to bathe before coming back to school. After he tells her he will not be back, she asks him to sit down. Burris...
(The entire section is 438 words.)
Chapter 4 Questions and Answers
1. What is the first present Scout finds in the tree?
2. When Dill says that he helped engineer the train, Jem says, “In a pig’s ear you did, Dill.” What does this mean?
3. Why has “Calpurnia’s tyranny, unfairness, and meddling . . . faded to gentle grumblings of general disapproval,” according to Scout?
4. What does Jem call Miss Caroline’s teaching methods?
5. What is the second present found in the tree?
6. Who is the “meanest old woman that ever lived”?
7. When Atticus asks the children if their game pertains to the Radleys, Jem says “No sir.” Atticus merely responds, “I hope it doesn't.” Why does he stop the conversation at that point?
8. How do cowardice and bravery figure into Scout’s taking part in the dramas about the Radley family?
9. What is the meaning of the following: “Dill was a villain’s villain . . .”?
10. What is a Hot Steam?
1. Scout finds chewing gum in the tree first.
2. The idiomatic expression “In a pig’s ear” means “impossible.”
3. Scout’s attitude—rather than Calpurnia’s behavior—may be the reason for the statement. Scout is spending less time with Calpurnia; possibly they miss each other. Scout is also growing and maturing; this is probably a principal reason for their improved...
(The entire section is 428 words.)
Chapter 5 Questions and Answers
1. When Scout begins to drift away from the boys, with whom does she spend much time?
2. Why does Miss Maudie hate her house?
3. Why do the children have faith in Miss Maudie?
4. How do the children try to send the message to Boo?
5. What does Miss Maudie mean when she says Atticus is the same in his house as he is on the public streets?
6. What does Uncle Jack yell at Miss Maudie each Christmas?
7. Atticus uses something like a threat when he finds the children trying to get a note to Boo Radley. What is the threat?
8. Uncle Jack Finch says the “best defense to her [Miss Maudie] was spirited offense.” What does he mean by that?
9. What does Miss Maudie mean when she says that the things told about Arthur Radley are “three-fourths colored folks and one-fourth Stephanie Crawford”?
10. What gesture of friendship cements Miss Maudie’s and Scout’s relationship?
1. Scout begins to spend time with Miss Maudie Atkinson.
2. She considers time spent indoors time wasted. She prefers to spend as much time as possible working in her garden.
3. She has never told on them; she has always been honest with them; she does not pry.
4. The children try to send a message by tying it on a fishing line.
5. She means that Atticus is a man of...
(The entire section is 303 words.)
Chapter 6 Questions and Answers
1. What is Mr. Avery’s claim to fame?
2. What is the children’s new plan in Chapter 6?
3. Where do the children sleep in the summer?
4. What are some of the nicknames that Jem gives Scout?
5. Why do the children spit on the gate?
6. How do you know that Jem respects his father?
7. What does Jem lose when he goes to the Radley Place?
8. What false story does Dill tell about the missing pants?
9. What promise/understanding exists between Scout and Dill?
10. How does Atticus take care of the poker problem?
1. He can urinate “ten feet” into the yard.
2. The children develop a plan to look in on Arthur Radley.
3. The children often sleep on the porch in the summer.
4. Jem calls Scout “Angel May” and “Little Three-Eyes.”
5. The children spit on the hinge to prevent it from squeaking.
6. The reader knows that Jem respects his father when he braves the Radley Place at night to retrieve his pants. Atticus has never spanked him, and Jem prefers to keep it that way.
7. Jem loses his pants when he goes to the Radley Place.
8. Dill says that the pants were lost in a game of strip poker.
9. They are engaged.
10. He tells the children to settle it themselves.
(The entire section is 209 words.)
Chapter 7 Questions and Answers
1. What secret does Jem share with Scout?
2. Describe the typical seasons in South Alabama.
3. What is the difference between carving and whittling?
4. What was unusual about Jem’s pants when he retrieved them from the fence?
5. What does Mr. Avery do with the stick of stovewood each week?
6. Why doesn’t Miss Maudie chew gum?
7. What do the children leave in the knothole in the tree?
8. What does Mr. Nathan Radley do to the tree where the gifts are placed?
9. Atticus says the tree is healthy. Mr. Nathan Radley says it is sick. When Atticus is told that Nathan had said the tree was sick, what does Atticus say?
10. How does Jem respond to the tree being plugged with cement?
1. He says that when he returned for his pants, he found them patched and folded on the fence.
2. There is little change in the seasons. Winters are more like autumn than in other parts of the country.
3. Carving is to shape by cutting; whittling is just cutting without trying to make a shape.
4. When Jem retrieved the pants, they had been mended and folded.
5. Mr. Avery whittles the stick of stovewood down to a toothpick.
6. Miss Maudie does not chew gum because it stuck (cleaved) to her palate (the roof of her mouth).
7. Scout and Jem...
(The entire section is 264 words.)
Chapter 8 Questions and Answers
1. Who dies in Chapter 8?
2. What is the Rosetta Stone? Why does Scout think Mr. Avery gets his information from it?
3. Why do Jem and Scout feel guilty when Mr. Avery tells them that children who disobey parents, smoke cigarettes, and make war on each other can cause a change in the seasons?
4. Jem and Scout do not have enough snow to build a snow figure. What else do they use?
5. What does Scout ask Atticus after he returns from the Radley Place after Mrs. Radley died?
6. Jem is able to make a snow person without enough snow to build one. What is Atticus’s first reaction? His second reaction?
7. How is Miss Maudie able to take an interest in Jem and Scout when her house has just burned?
8. Before the children begin the snowman, what do they borrow from Miss Maudie?
9. Why does Jem not want Scout to walk in the snow or to eat it?
10. Why does Atticus take the children out of the house at 1:00 A.M.?
1. Mrs. Radley dies in Chapter 8.
2. The Rosetta Stone is a tablet of black basalt found in 1799 at Rosetta, Egypt. Because it has inscriptions in Greek and in ancient Egyptian characters, it is a key to deciphering the ancient Egyptian writing. Scout thinks Mr. Avery gets his outdated information from this stone.
3. Jem and Scout feel guilty because they were...
(The entire section is 413 words.)
Chapter 9 Questions and Answers
1. Atticus is to defend a member of Calpurnia’s church. What is this person’s name?
2. What does Scout mean when she says “I was worrying another bone”?
3. Why does Atticus take a case which is causing so much dissension in the neighborhood?
4. How does Aunt Alexandra make Scout unhappy at meal time?
5. Who is Rose Aylmer?
6. Proponents of behavior modification believe that a way to reduce an undesired behavior is to ignore it. Can you think of an undesired behavior in Scout that Atticus sought to extinguish through ignoring it?
7. What is “Maycomb’s usual disease” that Atticus hopes that Scout and Jem will not contract?
8. Why does Jack say that he will never marry?
9. Compare and contrast the Christmas gifts that Jem receives and the gifts that Francis receives.
10. How does Jack punish Scout for fighting with Francis?
1. Tom Robinson is the member of Calpurnia’s church whom Atticus has agreed to defend.
2. Scout is concerned with something else.
3. He is asked to take the case, but more importantly, he would be ashamed not to do so. He has respect for himself and others.
4. Aunt Alexandra makes Scout unhappy by making her eat at the small table instead of at the big table with Jem and the adults.
5. Uncle Jack’s...
(The entire section is 320 words.)
Chapter 10 Questions and Answers
1. What action of Atticus’s makes him unpopular with the community?
2. What is a Jew’s Harp?
3. Why does Scout wish her father was “a devil from hell”?
4. Who does Calpurnia warn about the rabid dog?
5. What nickname did Atticus have at one time?
6. Who is Zeebo?
7. What does Atticus break when he went to face the dog?
8. Was it really “a policy of cowardice” that Scout follows when she agrees not to fight anymore about Atticus?
9. Why is Calpurnia supposed to go to the back door at the Radley Place?
10. Why is Miss Maudie upset when Scout talks about Atticus being old?
1. Defending Tom Robinson against the accusation of rape is unpopular with the community.
2. A Jew’s Harp is a musical instrument played inside the mouth, against the teeth.
3. Scout wants her father to be a devil from hell so she can brag about him to others.
4. Calpurnia warns the Radleys about the rapid dog.
5. He was called One-Shot Finch or Ol’ One-Shot.
6. Zeebo is the driver of the garbage trucks.
7. Atticus breaks his glasses.
8. It is not a cowardly act, as it takes more strength to obey her resolution than to give in to anger.
9. At the time there were social rules that people usually followed....
(The entire section is 239 words.)
Chapter 11 Questions and Answers
1. Why do Jem and Scout hate Mrs. Dubose at first?
2. What does apoplectic mean?
3. What is Atticus’s advice to Jem when Mrs. Dubose angers him?
4. Atticus has a special way of greeting Mrs. Dubose which pleases her. Describe the greeting.
5. What things does Atticus require Jem to do to make amends for his rage?
6. What does Atticus say is the one thing that “doesn’t abide by majority rule”?
7. Why do you think Atticus brings Scout two yellow pencils and Jem a football magazine after their first session with Mrs. Dubose?
8. Why is Mrs. Dubose lengthening the sessions each time?
9. What is Mrs. Dubose battling?
10. What does Mrs. Dubose give Jem before she dies?
1. They hate Mrs. Dubose at first because she speaks rudely to them and criticizes Atticus and their family.
2. An apoplectic person is one who is likely to have a seizure or a hemorrhage.
3. He encourages Jem to take it easy and reminds Jem that Mrs. Dubose is old and ill. He tells Jem to be a gentleman.
4. He always says “Good evening, Mrs. Dubose. You look like a picture this evening.” (He does not say a picture of what!)
5. He requires Jem to visit with Mrs. Dubose and to read to her each day and work in her yard as she requests.
6. Atticus says...
(The entire section is 265 words.)
Chapter 12 Questions and Answers
1. What change does Calpurnia make in the way she addresses 12-year-old Jem?
2. What does Calpurnia permit Scout to do that she had not permitted before?
3. What does the political cartoon of Atticus chained to a desk and wearing short pants mean to Jem?
4. Why should one not tell all one knows—according to Calpurnia?
5. Why are hymnals not used in the First Purchase A.M.E. Zion Church?
6. How is Zeebo related to Calpurnia?
7. Scout says she is confronted with the Impurity of Women doctrine in the First Purchase Church. What is the doctrine?
8. How does Calpurnia say that people can be changed?
9. Calpurnia says that “Colored folks don’t show their ages so fast.” What does Jem decide is the reason for this?
10. How is Tom’s wife Helen treated after Tom’s accusation?
1. Calpurnia begins to call him “Mister Jem.”
2. Calpurnia allows Scout to come into the kitchen to visit.
3. Jem explained that it means that Atticus spends his time doing things that other people would not want to.
4. Calpurnia says one should not tell all one knows, firstly because it is not ladylike and secondly because folks don’t like to be around those who know more than they do.
5. Hymnals are not used in the First Purchase A.M.E. Zion Church...
(The entire section is 320 words.)
Chapter 13 Questions and Answers
1. Why does Alexandra come to live with the Finch family?
2. What does the word amanuensis mean?
3. How does Maycomb receive Alexandra?
4. What does it mean when Scout says that Cousin Joshua “went round the bend”?
5. What is Atticus’ remedy for stomach problems?
6. What is Maycomb’s primary reason for being?
7. Why does Maycomb always remain about the same size?
8. What message does Alexandra ask Atticus to bring to the children?
9. What does Scout mean when she says that Alexandra has a preoccupation with heredity?
10. What does Scout mean when she says that Alexandra thinks that everybody in Maycomb had a streak?
1. Alexandra stays with the Finch family in order to give a feminine influence to Scout.
2. The word amanuensis means stenographer.
3. Maycomb welcomes Alexandra and includes her in its social life.
4. Scout means that Cousin Joshua had a nervous breakdown.
5. He takes some soda.
6. Government is Maycomb’s primary reason for being.
7. It grows inward. Because new people settled there so rarely the families intermarry.
8. Atticus asks the children to live up to their name, as per Alexandra’s instructions. She asks that they try to behave like a little lady and a little...
(The entire section is 229 words.)
Chapter 14 Questions and Answers
1. What does Scout find under her bed?
2. What does Atticus mean when he says, "rape to riot to runaways"?
3. Why does Dill run away?
4. What does Scout think is under her bed at first?
5. What is Scout’s response to Aunt Alexandra when she tells Scout that she cannot visit Calpurnia?
6. What does Scout mean by “he bore with fortitude her Wait Till I Get You Home. . . .”
7. When Scout asked Atticus if she could go to Calpurnia’s, what was Alexandra’s reaction?
8. Whom does Atticus tell Scout to mind?
9. Why does Scout seem to be a very innocent child?
10. Why does Jem ask Scout not to antagonize Aunt Alexandra?
1. Scout finds Dill under her bed.
2. In one night Atticus had dealt with Scout’s questions about the word rape, had broken up a fight between Scout and Jem, and had dealt with the runaway Dill.
3. Dill says that he believes his parents get along better without him. He says that they expect him to behave like a boy.
4. Scout thinks at first that a snake is under her bed.
5. Scout says that she did not ask Aunt Alexandra.
6. This is a reference to the various “speeches” Dill’s Aunt Rachel gives when she finds Dill has run away.
7. Alexandra immediately says that Scout cannot go....
(The entire section is 280 words.)
Chapter 15 Questions and Answers
1. What are the only two reasons grown men stand outside in the yard, according to Scout?
2. What is meant by a “change of venue”?
3. Who is the mockingbird in this chapter? Why?
4. Who does Scout recognize in the mob at the jail?
5. Contrast the way Atticus rises from his chair at the jail and the way that he normally rises from a chair.
6. What breaks the tension when the mob comes to the house?
7. Where is Tom during the time that Atticus faces the mob downtown?
8. What does Calpurnia mean when she says Jem has the “look-arounds”?
9. What attitude do most of the people in Maycomb have toward walking?
10. What is Atticus’s loaded question?
1. Grown men stand outside for death and politics.
2. A change of venue is a change in the place where the jury is selected and the trial is held or where the events occur.
3. Tom is the mockingbird. Atticus could also be considered a mockingbird since he is endangered and he has done nothing to harm anyone. Since the reader is developing sympathy for Arthur, he might be a mockingbird also.
4. Scout recognizes Mr. Cunningham.
5. Atticus normally rises from a chair very quickly, but at the jail he moves like an old man.
6. Jem shouts that the phone is ringing in order to...
(The entire section is 254 words.)
Chapter 16 Questions and Answers
1. Who presides over Tom’s trial?
2. What does the word elucidate mean?
3. What makes one a Mennonite, according to Jem?
4. What does Atticus say is the result of naming people after Confederate generals?
5. What does Atticus say had brought the mob to its senses?
6. What is the Idlers’ Club?
7. With whom do the children sit in court?
8. What two things keep Mr. Raymond from being trash?
9. What do the foot-washers say to Miss Maudie?
10. Why does Aunt Alexandra criticize Atticus?
1. Judge Taylor presides over Tom Robinson’s trial.
2. Elucidate means to explain or to clarify.
3. Mennonites don’t use buttons, they live deep in the woods, trade across the river, rarely come to Maycomb, and have blue eyes. The men do not shave after they marry.
4. Atticus says the naming made them steady drinkers.
5. Atticus says an eight-year-old brought the mob to its senses.
6. The Idlers’ Club is a group of retired men who frequent the court and the courthouse.
7. The children sit with Reverend Sykes.
8. Mr. Raymond is from an old family and owns land.
9. The foot-washers yell “He that cometh in vanity departeth in darkness.”
10. Aunt Alexandra criticizes Atticus for talking...
(The entire section is 206 words.)
Chapter 17 Questions and Answers
1. What is the name of the solicitor?
2. What does the word ambidextrous mean?
3. Why does Reverend Sykes ask Jem to take Dill and Scout home from the trial?
4. Where do the Ewells live?
5. Why does Scout get to stay during the explicit testimonies?
6. Where do Scout and Jem sit during the trial?
7. What does Scout mean when she says that Jem is counting his chickens?
8. Why is it important that Mr. Ewell signs his name with his left hand?
9. What excuse does Jem use for not taking Scout home?
10. What does it mean when Scout says the Ewells live as guests of the county?
1. The solicitor is Mr. Gilmer.
2. Ambidextrous means able to use both hands.
3. Reverend Sykes asks Jem to take Scout home because of the explicit details of the rape given during the trial.
4. They live “behind the town garbage dump in what had been a Negro cabin.”
5. Scout stays because Jem tells Reverend Sykes that she does not understand.
6. The children sit in the balcony during the trial.
7. It means Jem was counting on Atticus’s winning too soon.
8. It is significant that Mr. Ewell uses his left hand to write his name because it shows that he is left-handed. His daughter had bruises on the right side of her face which...
(The entire section is 245 words.)
Chapter 18 Questions and Answers
1. What is Mayella’s full name?
2. What are lavations?
3. How can Jem tell which characters do not wash regularly?
4. Why does Judge Taylor not hold Mayella in contempt of court?
5. Why is Tom’s left arm crippled?
6. Whom does Mayella say she is afraid of?
7. What is a chiffarobe?
8. What question does Atticus ask Mayella that makes her furious?
9. What does the word tollable mean?
10. How many witnesses does Atticus say he still has to call when Mayella had finished?
1. Mayella’s full name is Mayella Violet Ewell.
2. Lavations are washings.
3. Jem says that those who do not wash regularly have a scalded look as if their bodies have been deprived of a protective layer of dirt.
4. She is poor and ignorant.
5. He has caught his left arm in a cotton gin and has torn the muscles loose from the bones.
6. Mayella says she is afraid of Atticus.
7. A chiffarobe is an old dresser full of drawers on one side.
8. Atticus asks Mayella if her father had attacked her.
9. The word should read tolerable, which means passable.
10. Atticus says he has one witness to call.
(The entire section is 188 words.)
Chapter 19 Questions and Answers
1. Why is Dill crying?
2. How old is Tom?
3. What is Link Deas’ opinion of Tom?
4. What does Judge Taylor say to Deas when he speaks in favor of Tom?
5. What does Tom say that Mr. Ewell saw through the window?
6. Why does Scout take Dill from the courtroom?
7. What does Scout say is a sure sign of guilt?
8. What does Scout mean when she says Maycomb gives the Ewells “the back of its hand”?
9. Why was Tom afraid to push Mayella out of the way?
10. When Tom was approached by Mayella, he did something which Scout says was a sure sign of guilt. What was it?
1. Dill is crying because of the way that Gilmer treated Tom.
2. Tom is 25.
3. Link says that Tom had worked for him for eight years and he had not had “a speck o’trouble outa him.”
4. The judge throws Deas out of the courtroom.
5. He sees Mayella grab Tom and kiss him. Tom was trying to get away.
6. Scout took Dill from the courtroom because he began to cry.
7. Scout says that running is a sure sign of guilt.
8. Scout means that Maycomb gave the Ewells a slap. They gave the Ewells gifts but not in love.
9. Tom “would not have dared strike a white woman under any circumstances and expect to live long. . . .”
(The entire section is 231 words.)
Chapter 20 Questions and Answers
1. What does Dolphus Raymond give Dill to settle his stomach?
2. What is unusual about Atticus’s clothing during his final summation?
3. What does Atticus argue are some of the reasons that Tom should not be convicted?
4. How does Atticus end his summation?
5. What does Atticus do in court that the children never saw him do even at home?
6. What feeling do both Tom and Atticus have for Mayella?
7. What does Atticus say is a great leveler?
8. Why does Mr. Raymond share this secret with the children?
9. Why does Mr. Raymond pretend to drink?
10. Does Atticus say that kissing Tom was a crime?
1. Mr. Raymond gives Dill Coca-Cola to settle his stomach.
2. Atticus’s clothing is unusual during final summation because he removes his coat, unbuttons his vest and collar, and loosens his tie. Scout had never seen him do this before in private or in public.
3. Atticus says the state has not produced any medical evidence that the crime that Tom was charged with ever took place.
4. Atticus ends his summation with the words, “In the name of God, believe him.”
5. Atticus removes his coat, unbuttons his vest and collar, and loosens his tie.
6. Atticus pities her; Tom feels sorry for her. These emotions are the same.
(The entire section is 282 words.)
Chapter 21 Questions and Answers
1. Who walks down the middle aisle carrying a note to Atticus?
2. Why does Reverend Sykes ask Scout to stand when her father passes?
3. How does Reverend Sykes address Scout?
4. What things are strange about the courtroom during the wait for a jury decision?
5. Scout compares the atmosphere in the courthouse before the jury returns to another time and place. What is the time and place?
6. Why is Reverend Sykes not sure that the jury would decide in favor of Tom Robinson?
7. Why does Reverend Sykes’s voice seem distant after the decision even though he is standing next to Scout?
8. What does Calpurnia’s note say?
9. Why does Atticus walk down the middle aisle?
10. How can you tell when a jury has convicted a defendent?
1. Calpurnia walks down the aisle carrying a note to Atticus.
2. The whole balcony stands as a sign of respect to Atticus.
3. The Reverend Sykes addresses Scout as “Miss Jean Louise.”
4. The courtroom is very quiet. Occasionally a baby will cry out or a child might leave, but the adults sit or stand as still as if they were in church.
5. Scout likens the waiting to the time the rabid dog was near.
6. He is not confident because he has never seen “a jury decide in favor of a colored man over a white...
(The entire section is 301 words.)
Chapter 22 Questions and Answers
1. What does Aunt Alexandra call Atticus?
2. What does Jem mean when he says “It ain’t right”?
3. What does Dill plan to do with his life?
4. Miss Maudie normally gives the children a small cake each. What does she do this time?
5. What special thing do the people do to show their appreciation to Atticus the next morning?
6. What does Mr. Ewell say and do to Atticus?
7. Does Miss Maudie think that it is an accident that Atticus was appointed by the judge to defend Tom Robinson?
8. What kind of person does Miss Maudie say that Atticus is?
9. Why does it say that Dill makes rabbit-bites?
10. What is Aunt Alexandra’s response to the children’s going to court?
1. Aunt Alexandra calls Atticus “Brother.”
2. Jem means that it is not right that Tom was convicted.
3. Dill says that he plans to be a clown who laughs at people. He does not think he can change the way things are and, he prefers to laugh, not cry.
4. She gives Jem a slice from the big cake.
5. They bring him all kinds of food.
6. Mr. Ewell spits in Atticus’s face and says he will get even.
7. Miss Maudie says that the judge purposely chose Atticus to defend Tom. Usually the judge would have selected a new, beginning lawyer for this type of...
(The entire section is 264 words.)
Chapter 23 Questions and Answers
1. What is Atticus’s response when the children ask him to borrow a gun?
2. What is a hung jury?
3. The jury contained white males from outside Maycomb. What are some missing groups?
4. What humorous remark does Atticus make when Ewell spits in his face?
5. Scout believes that Aunt Alexandra wants to help her choose something. What is this?
6. Do you think Tom could get a fair trial with a jury of white males from outside Maycomb? Why?
7. What is Atticus’ response when he was asked if he is afraid to fight?
8. Atticus says that one type of person is trash. Who was this?
9. Why could Miss Maudie not serve on a jury?
10. What does Aunt Alexandra call Walter Cunningham that angers Scout?
1. He responds “Nonsense.”
2. A hung jury is one that cannot reach an agreement.
3. The Maycomb jury includes no woman, no “black man,” and no Maycomb resident.
4. He says that he wished Bob Ewell did not chew tobacco
5. Aunt Alexandra seems to want to choose Scout’s friends.
6. No, because they are not his peers.
7. Atticus says he is not afraid but too old to fight.
8. Trash is a white person who cheats a “black man.”
9. Miss Maudie cannot serve because she is a woman.
(The entire section is 214 words.)
Chapter 24 Questions and Answers
1. Where does the women’s missionary circle hold its meeting?
2. Where are Dill and Jem?
3. During what month does the chapter take place?
4. Why is Scout not allowed to go with Dill and Jem?
5. What special group are the women studying?
6. Who is conducting the study?
7. Mrs. Merriweather tries to make Scout look bad in front of the others. She says Scout might want to be a lawyer since she has “already commenced going to court.” What does Scout say she wants to be when she grows up?
8. What bad news does Atticus bring home?
9. Mrs. Merriweather keeps saying there is someone the ladies needed to forgive. Who is it?
10. Who does Atticus take with him to Mrs. Robinson’s?
1. The women’s missionary group meets in the Finch home.
2. Dill and Jem are swimming at Barker’s Eddy.
3. The chapter takes place in late August.
4. Scout cannot go with the boys since they are swimming naked.
5. The women are studying the Mrunas.
6. Mrs. Merriweather is conducting the study.
7. Scout says she wants to grow up to be a lady.
8. The bad news is that Tom had attempted escape and had been killed by guards.
9. She thought the women should forgive Mrs. Robinson.
10. Atticus takes...
(The entire section is 211 words.)
Chapter 25 Questions and Answers
1. What does Jem order Scout not to kill?
2. Why do Jem and Dill go with Atticus to the Robinson Place?
3. What condition does Atticus make for the two boys to go?
4. What game are the children playing at the Robinson Place?
5. What tender gesture does Atticus make while waiting for Helen?
6. What is Helen’s reaction to seeing Atticus’s face?
7. What does Mr. Underwood do to confront society?
8. To what does Mr. Underwood compare Tom Robinson?
9. What does Mr. Ewell say when he hears of Tom’s death?
10. Why does Scout not tell Atticus what Mr. Ewell said?
1. Jem orders Scout not to kill a roly-poly bug.
2. Dill and Jem are on their way back from swimming when they meet Atticus and flag him down to get a ride. He picks them up, but tells them that he is not going straight home.
3. He tells the boys that they must stay in the car.
4. The children at the Robinson Place are playing marbles.
5. Atticus helps one of Tom’s little girls down the steps.
6. Helen Robinson faints after seeing Atticus’s face.
7. Mr. Underwood writes an editorial to confront society.
8. Mr. Underwood compares Tom to a songbird.
9. Mr. Ewell says, “One down and two to go” when he hears of Tom’s...
(The entire section is 236 words.)
Chapter 26 Questions and Answers
1. What grade is Jem in in this chapter?
2. What grade is Scout in in this chapter?
3. How does Scout feel about the Radley Place now?
4. What newspaper does Miss Gates dislike?
5. What term does Miss Gates say means equal rights for everyone?
6. When does Scout see Atticus scowl?
7. Why is Jem trying to gain weight? How?
8. How does Scout define democracy?
9. What had Scout heard Miss Gates say on the courthouse steps?
10. Why does Atticus say that Jem would not talk about the courthouse?
1. Jem is in the seventh grade in this chapter.
2. Scout is in the third grade in this chapter.
3. Scout still thinks the Radley Place is gloomy, but she is not terrified of it.
4. Miss Gates dislikes The Grit Paper.
5. Miss Gates says democracy means equal rights for everyone.
6. Scout sees Atticus scowl when Hitler is mentioned on the radio.
7. Jem is trying to gain weight by eating bananas and milk. He needs to gain 25 pounds in two years to play football.
8. Democracy is defined as “Equal rights for all, special privileges for none.”
9. Scout had heard Miss Gates say derogatory things about black people on the courthouse steps. She said things about teaching “'em a lesson, and how they were...
(The entire section is 245 words.)
Chapter 27 Questions and Answers
1. What does Mrs. Jones say Mr. Ewell said when he lost his job?
2. When does Judge Taylor hear a strange noise?
3. Why does Helen walk a mile out of her way to get to work?
4. Who defends Helen against Mr. Ewell?
5. What noise did Judge Taylor hear?
6. During what month does this chapter take place?
7. What is Scout’s costume for the pageant?
8. What are the nicknames for the Barber sisters?
9. What trick is played on the Barber sisters?
10. Who escorts Scout to the pageant?
1. Mr. Ewell says that Atticus got his job.
2. Judge Taylor hears a strange sound on Sunday night.
3. Helen walks a mile out of her way to avoid the Ewell Place.
4. Mr. Link Deas tells Mr. Ewell to leave Helen alone.
5. Someone cut Judge Taylor’s screen causing the noise.
6. This chapter takes place in October.
7. Scout is a ham for the pageant.
8. The children call the Barbers Tutti and Frutti.
9. The furniture from downstairs was put in the cellar while they slept.
10. Jem escorts Scout to the pageant.
(The entire section is 176 words.)
Chapter 28 Questions and Answers
1. What is the weather like on Halloween night?
2. Who frightens the children on the way to the auditorium?
3. What is Cecil Jacob’s costume for the pageant?
4. How much money does Scout have and how many things can she do with it?
5. Why does Scout miss her cue in the pageant?
6. Why are the children among the last ones to leave the auditorium?
7. Why does Scout wear her costume home?
8. Why can Jem see Scout in the dark?
9. How many people scuffle under the tree?
10. Who does Sheriff Tate find has been killed in the scuffle?
1. The weather is warm and the sky cloudy and dark.
2. Cecil Jacobs frightens the children on the way to the pageant.
3. Cecil Jacobs is a cow in the pageant.
4. Scout has 30¢ so she can do six things at the Halloween celebration.
5. Scout misses her cue because she is asleep.
6. Scout does not want to leave until most people are gone because she is embarrassed by her performance and does not want to talk about it.
7. Scout wants to wear her costume because she can hide her mortification under it.
8. Jem can see Scout because the fat streaks in the costume are painted with shiny paint.
9. Four people scuffle under the tree.
10. The sheriff finds Mr....
(The entire section is 221 words.)
Chapter 29 Questions and Answers
1. What is Atticus’s one sign of inner turmoil?
2. Why does Mr. Tate say it is all right that Alexandra had not heeded her feeling?
3. Why does Atticus want Scout to raise her head when she talks?
4. Why don’t the children go back for Scout’s shoes?
5. What does Scout call out to Cecil Jacobs?
6. Why do Atticus and Alexandra not hear the sounds outside?
7. Why does Mr. Tate say Mr. Ewell acted the way that he did?
8. How does Scout know that she is under the tree?
9. Who brings Jem into the house?
10. What does Scout say to the man who rescued Jem and her?
1. The strong line of his jaw melts a little.
2. He says if we heeded all our feelings, we would be like cats chasing our tails.
3. He wants Scout to raise her head so Mr. Tate can hear.
4. The children don’t go back because they see the lights go off.
5. She calls out that Cecil is a big, fat hen.
6. They were listening to their radios.
7. Mr. Tate says that Mr. Ewell acted the way he did because he was mean.
8. Scout knows she is under the tree because the sand feels cool.
9. Boo Radley brings Jem to the house.
10. Scout says, “Hey, Boo.”
(The entire section is 214 words.)
Chapter 30 Questions and Answers
1. What is in the doctor’s package?
2. Why do they take Boo on the front porch?
3. In what order do they go out on the front porch?
4. What does the sheriff say had happened to Mr. Ewell?
5. What does Atticus say had happened to Mr. Ewell?
6. What comparison does Scout make with Boo?
7. For what does Atticus thank Boo?
8. How does Scout try to cheer Atticus up after Mr. Tate leaves?
9. What kind of knife was used to kill Mr. Ewell?
10. Where does the sheriff say he had gotten the switchblade?
1. The doctor carries medical supplies.
2. They take Boo to the front porch because they think he will be more comfortable in the dark.
3. Mr. Tate, then Atticus, then Scout and Boo together.
4. The sheriff says Mr. Ewell had fallen on his knife.
5. Atticus thinks Jem killed him in self-defense.
6. Scout compares Boo to a mockingbird.
7. Atticus thanks Boo for his children.
8. Scout tries to cheer Atticus with hugs and kisses.
9. A kitchen knife was used to kill Mr. Ewell.
10. The sheriff says he had gotten the switchblade from a drunk.
(The entire section is 184 words.)
Chapter 31 Questions and Answers
1. Why does Boo go inside the Finch house again?
2. What book is Atticus reading?
3. Why does Scout walk with Arthur to his home?
4. Why does she ask Boo to take her arm?
5. Why does Scout go to sleep before the story is over?
6. Why does the doctor put a tent over Jem?
7. Why is Atticus reading the book?
8. What does Atticus say most people are like when you finally see them?
9. What makes you think Atticus does not believe Scout when she says she is not afraid?
10. What makes Scout sad in thinking back on all the gifts Boo had given them?
1. Boo Radley goes inside the Finch house again to see Jem.
2. Atticus reads The Gray Ghost.
3. Scout walks with Arthur to his home because he asked her to do so.
4. She asks Boo to take her arm so if Miss Stephanie looks from her window, she will see a gentleman escorting a lady.
5. The room is warm, the rain is soft, Atticus’s knee is snug, and the voice is deep so Scout goes to sleep.
6. The tent is to protect Jem’s arm from the cover.
7. Atticus reads the book because he has never read it.
8. Atticus says most people are nice when you finally see them.
9. When Atticus raises his eyebrows, the reader knows he does not believe Scout.
(The entire section is 238 words.)
Point of View
The most outstanding aspect of To Kill a Mockingbird's construction lies in its distinctive narrative point of view. Scout Finch, who narrates in the first person ("I"), is nearly six years old when the novel opens. The story, however, is recalled by the adult Scout; this allows her first-person narrative to contain adult language and adult insights yet still maintain the innocent outlook of a child. The adult perspective also adds a measure of hindsight to the tale, allowing for a deeper examination of events. The narrative proceeds in a straightforward and linear fashion, only jumping in time when relating past events as background to some present occurrence. Scout's account is broken into two parts: the two years before the trial, and the summer of the trial and the autumn that follows. Some critics have proposed that Part II itself should have been broken into two parts, the trial and the Halloween pageant; William T. Going suggests that this arrangement would keep the latter section from "seeming altogether an anticlimax to the trial of Tom."
The setting of To Kill a Mockingbird is another big factor in the story, for the action never leaves the town of Maycomb, Alabama. Maycomb is described variously as "an old town," "an ancient town," and "a tired old town," suggesting a conservative place that is steeped in tradition and convention. Scout's description of the local...
(The entire section is 829 words.)
Lee neatly structures her novel around a dual plot and dual themes; the novel is evenly divided into two parts. In her graceful, understated style, Lee weaves together a story about two children growing up in a small southern town, and a story about the children's father, a white attorney who defends a black man unjustly accused of raping a white woman. Because both stories involve Jem, Scout, and Atticus, Scout's first-person narration, with its focus on the development of these three characters, unifies the different story lines.
The narrator's emphasis on Jem is particularly significant to the structure and meaning of the story. Lee creates in Scout an immensely likable, funny character, but she invests Jem with the depth and literary complexity of a protagonist. Each section of the book begins and ends with a description of Jem as he matures and changes. Scout begins her narrative with the statement: "When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow." The rest of the story follows from this simple revelation, and by the final chapters, when the injury actually occurs, the broken arm carries symbolic significance.
Through much of part 1, Jem is a child who plays make-believe games with Scout and Dill, but toward the end of the first section, he has begun to recognize the difference between right and wrong, good and evil. Scout's narration reflects this development; she begins part 2 by noting: "Jem was...
(The entire section is 600 words.)
To Kill a Mockingbird is about two deeply disturbing subjects: rape and racism. Lee addresses both subjects with grave sensitivity. The details regarding Mayella Ewell's alleged rape come to light during the trial scenes, with Atticus gently guiding the proceedings. Although these details are not explicitly described, there is the suggestion of incest—that Bob Ewell not only beat his daughter but raped her as well. Since the story is being filtered through Scout, all of this information is related subtly and succinctly.
The novel also reflects the reality of racism in segregated southern towns in the 1930s, some thirty years before the civil rights movement. Blacks are commonly referred to as "niggers" and are considered below the law. Many members of the white society feel justified in inflicting their own form of justice on blacks, particularly on those, such as Robinson, whom they believe have violated racist sexual taboos. By confessing his sympathy for Mayella, Tom Robinson—a black man who has the gall to feel sorry for a white woman—offends the ignorant bigots of the town. A mob of townspeople gather at the jail in hopes of pulling Robinson from his cell and lynching him.
In her measured, deliberate style, Lee exposes the ugliness of this racist society and holds Atticus up as an example of enlightenment and compassion. Still, her comparison of Tom Robinson to a mockingbird, a harmless bird described as existing "only to...
(The entire section is 276 words.)
Compare and Contrast
1930s: During the Great Depression unemployment rose as high as 25%; the New Deal program of government-sponsored relief leads to a deficit in the federal budget.
1960: After a decade of record-high American production and exports, unemployment dips to less than 5 percent, while the federal government runs a small surplus.
Today: Unemployment runs between 5 and 6 percent, while the federal government works to reduce a multi-billion dollar deficit amidst an increasingly competitive global economy.
1930s: Schools are racially segregated; emphasis in the classroom was on rote learning of the basics.
1960: Although backed up by force at times, school integration laws were being enforced; the 1959 launch of the Soviet satellite Sputnik leads to math and science gaining increased importance.
Today: School populations are as racially diverse as their communities; classes include a focus on combining subjects and problem-solving skills.
1930s: Only property owners who were white and male could serve on juries.
1960:: Women and minorities could now serve on...
(The entire section is 288 words.)
Topics for Discussion
1. Scout describes her father's first law case in this way: "His first two clients were the last two persons hanged in the Maycomb County jail...The Haverfords had dispatched Maycomb's leading blacksmith in a misunderstanding... were imprudent enough to do it in front of three witnesses...They persisted in pleading Not Guilty to first-degree murder, so there was nothing much Atticus could do for his clients except be present at their departure, an occasion that was probably the beginning of my father's profound distaste for the practice of criminal law." How is this passage an example of Scout's style as a narrator? How would you describe this style? Find other examples of passages that illustrate her way of telling a story.
2. Many of the characters have unusual nicknames: Jean Louise is Scout, Jeremy Atticus is Jem, Charles Baker Harris is Dill, and Arthur Radley is Boo. How do you think these nicknames developed, and how do they work as characterization devices?
3. Atticus's name is also unusual. Try to determine the origin of his name (it has Greek and Latin roots), and discuss its symbolic meaning in the story.
4. What role does Dill play in the novel? How is Dill different from Scout and Jem? Does he develop as a character in his own right, or does he merely serve as a contrast to Scout and Jem?
5. Scout's teacher, Miss Caroline, receives an education in the ways and means of Maycomb County on her first day of...
(The entire section is 328 words.)
Ideas for Reports and Papers
1. When Aunt Alexandria forbids Scout to associate with Walter Cunningham because she considers him "trash," Scout and Jem have a discussion about family background and what makes one type of family different from another in Maycomb. Jem tells Scout: "There's four kinds of folks in the world. There's the ordinary kind like us and the neighbors, there's the kind like the Cunninghams out in the woods, the kind like the Ewells down at the dump, and the Negroes.. .Background doesn't make Old Family...I think it's how long your family's been readin' and writin'." Scout disagrees with him, saying, "I think there's just one kind of folks. Folks." Which character do you think is expressing the author's point of view, Scout or Jem? Cite examples from the book.
2. Research race relations in the South in the 1930s. Does Lee accurately depict the social tensions of the time? Research and report on specific incidents of racially motivated discrimination, protest, and violence in Alabama during the civil rights movement of the 1960s. Do you think that white racists in the South had to "pay the bill" for their oppression of blacks during this period of social uprising?
3. Watch the movie To Kill a Mockingbird and compare it to the book. Which do you like better, and why? Note what the director adds to or omits from the book and analyze the director's interpretation of the book.
4. Boo Radley's character is like a puzzle that the children...
(The entire section is 567 words.)
Topics for Further Study
- Research the 1930s trials of the Scottsboro Boys and compare how the justice system worked in this case to the trial of Tom Robinson.
- Explore the government programs of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's "New Deal" and explain how some of the characters in To Kill a Mockingbird could have been helped by them.
- Investigate the various groups involved in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s and compare their programs to the community supports found in Lee's imaginary town of Maycomb.
(The entire section is 83 words.)
In 1962 To Kill a Mockingbird was adapted as a motion picture with a screenplay written by Horton Foote. A winner of three Academy Awards, the film was directed by Robert Mulligan and starred Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch. The motion picture is remarkably faithful to the book and has received both popular and critical acclaim.
(The entire section is 55 words.)
- To Kill a Mockingbird was adapted as a film by Horton Foote, starring Gregory Peck and Mary Badham, Universal, 1962; available from MCA/ Universal Home Video.
- It was also adapted as a full-length stage play by Christopher Sergei, and was published as Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird: A Full-length Play, Dramatic Publishing Co., 1970.
(The entire section is 70 words.)
What Do I Read Next?
- In A Gathering of Old Men, Ernest Gaines's 1983 novel, a white Cajun work boss is found shot in a black man's yard. Nineteen elderly black men and a young white woman all claim responsibility for the murder in order to thwart the expected lynch mob.
- Nobel Prize-winner Toni Morrison's Song of Solomon (1977) is the story of Milkman Dead's quest for identity and how he discovers his own courage, endurance, and capacity for love and joy when he discovers his connection with his ancestors.
- Mark Twain's 1884 popular and sometimes controversial classic The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn follows the satirical adventures and moral development of Huck Finn, a young white boy, as he accompanies Jim, an escaped slave, down the Mississippi River in a quest for freedom.
- Uncle Tom's Children, a 1938 collection of stories by Richard Wright relates how African Americans struggle for survival in a racist world and explores themes of fear, violence, flight, courage, and freedom.
- Taylor Branch's social history Parting the Waters: American in the King Years, 1954-63, which won the 1988 National Book Critics Circle Award for...
(The entire section is 220 words.)
For Further Reference
Buelle, Edwin. "Keen Scalpel on Racial Ills." English Journal 53 (1964): 658- 661. Discusses racial themes in Lee's novel and in Alan Paton's Cry, the Beloved Country.
Erisman, Fred. "Literature and Place: Varieties of Regional Experience." Journal of Regional Cultures 1 (Fall/Winter 1981): 144-153. Discusses Harper Lee, Robert Perm Warren, and Sarah Orne Jewett as examples of writers who use regionalism in literature.
"The Romantic Regionalism of Harper Lee." Alabama Review 26 (1973): 122-136. Discusses Lee's work in relation to southern romanticism.
Going, William T. Essays on Alabama Literature. University, AL: University of Alabama Press, 1975. Discusses To Kill a Mockingbird as a reflection of Alabama history and culture.
Kibler, James E., ed. Dictionary of Literary Biography. Vol 6, American Novelists Since World War II. Second Series. Detroit: Gale Research, 1980. Discusses Lee's life and writing, briefly analyzes her novel, and summarizes its critical reception.
Newquist, Roy. "Interview with Harper Lee." In Counterpoint. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1964. In this interview, Lee reveals much about her opinions and aspirations, her experience as a writer, and her feelings about the film version of her novel.
Visser, N. W. "Temporal Vantage Point in the Novel." Journal of Narrative Technique 7 (1977): 81-93. Discusses...
(The entire section is 226 words.)
Bibliography and Further Reading
Adams, Phoebe. Review in Atlantic Monthly, Vol. 206, August 26, 1960, pp. 98-99.
Dave, R. A. "To Kill a Mockingbird: Harper Lee's Tragic Vision." In Indian Studies in American Fiction, edited by M. K. Naik, S. K. Desai, Punekar S. Mokashi, and M. Jayalakshammanni. Karnatak University Press, 1974, pp 311-23.
Ensman, Fred. "The Romantic Regionalism of Harper Lee." In The Alabama Review, Vol. 26, No. 2, April, 1973, pp. 122-36.
Ford, Nick Aaron. Review in PHYLON, Vol. XXII, Second Quarter (June), 1961, p 122.
Going, William T. "Store and Mockingbird: Two Pulitzer Novels about Alabama." In his Essays on Alabama Literature. The University of Alabama Press, 1975, pp. 9-31.
Hicks, Granville. "Three at the Outset." In Saturday Review, Vol. XLIII, No. 30, July 23, 1960, pp. 15-16.
LeMay, Harding. "Children Play; Adults Betray." In New York Herald Tribune Book Review, July 10, 1960, p. 5.
Sullivan, Richard. "Engrossing First Novel of Rare Excellence." In Chicago Sunday Tribune, July 17, 1960, p. 1.
Waterhouse, Keith. Review in New Statesman, October 15, 1960, p. 580.
For Further Reading
Bruell, Edwin. "Keen Scalpel on Racial Ills." In The English Journal, Vol. 53, December, 1964, pp. 658-61. An article that touches on...
(The entire section is 351 words.)
Bibliography (Censorship (Ready Reference series))
Altman, Dorothy Jewell. Harper Lee. Detroit: Gale Research, 1980. A concise examination of the novel’s themes and symbolism. Treats the work as a regional novel with a universal message.
Beidler, Philip D. “Introduction: Alabama Flowering II.” In The Art of Fiction in the Heart of Dixie: An Anthology of Alabama Writers, edited by Philip D. Beidler. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1986.
Betts, Doris. Introduction to Southern Women Writers: The New Generation, edited by Tonette Bond Inge. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1990.
Dave, R. A. “To Kill a Mockingbird: Harper Lee’s Tragic Vision.” In Indian Studies in American Literature, edited by M. K. Naik et al. Dharwar, India: Karnatak University, 1974. Dave provides an interesting discussion of the history of the mockingbird as a symbol of innocence and joy in American literature. He draws parallels between To Kill a Mockingbird and Walt Whitman’s poem “Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking.” Dave also explores how Lee, like Jane Austen, evokes a regional place yet makes it a macrocosm describing a range of human behavior.
Erisman, Fred. “The Romantic Regionalism of Harper Lee.” Alabama Review 26 (April, 1973): 122-136. Examines Maycomb as a microcosm of the South, having within itself the potential to move from reliance on tradition to reliance on principle and to join the...
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