Tom Robinson is shot by one of the prison warders. Write a report on the warder explaining from his point of view what happened.

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This sounds like a great assignment. It may prove difficult to justify shooting a man 17 times, of course, but writing anything for a specific character’s perspective can encourage you to revisit specific passages in Harper Lee’s novel To Kill a Mockingbird and to engage in some creative storytelling of your own.

I would suggest that you begin by rereading the news of the incident in Chapter 24. You’ll see the references to “guards,” not “the guard.” If I were the guard, that would be one of the first things I would want to make clear. I don’t shoot him 17 times by myself. "There were five of us, each a pretty good shot... Don't think we missed more than once." As the guard, I might also want to really play up the following details from the news, as it’s reported to the reader. Tom Robinson:

  • had been warned (we called, we fired warning shots…)
  • had his day in court and was a convicted criminal
  • was very close to making it over the fence
  • was not acting rationally (e.g. see the statement about his “blind raving charge”)

Of course, in giving his own account of the events, this guard can indirectly express his own racist views (as a reader of the novel, I think the guards must have been driven by something to shoot a man that many times!), much like Bob Ewell reveals his own racist views in his testimony in the trial scene.

If you feel inclined, you might even consider writing the piece for the Maycomb County newspaper opinion column, something written and submitted as a response to Underwood’s editorial (see Chapter 25).

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