What questions might an interviewer ask Atticus, Scout, Dill, or Jem based only on Chapter One of To Kill a Mockingbird?

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Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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Harper Lee uses the first chapter of her novel To Kill a Mockingbird as her exposition. The exposition is the moment in a story when the author introduces everything needed to set up a story including characters, setting, and conflict. Since the first chapter is used to introduce to us the characters, setting, and conflict, good interview questions could be aimed at learning more about either the characters, the setting, or the initial conflict.

One thing we learn early on about Atticus is that he and his younger brother John Hale Finch (Uncle Jack) were the first two Finch men to decide not to pursue careers continuing to farm Finch's Landing but to practice law and medicine instead. Since Atticus was the first Finch man to leave Finch's Landing, one might wonder if there is a rebellious side to his nature and how that rebelliousness is demonstrated throughout and influences the rest of the story. So, in order to learn more about Atticus, an interviewer might ask, "Do you consider yourself to be a rebellious, independent man?"

Scout and Jem meeting Dill for the first time is an important development in the story. It's very clear from Scout's behavior that, upon first impression, she thinks Dill is silly. For example, once they invite Dill over to their yard to play with them, as Dill struggles to climb under the short wire fence, Scout points out to Dill, "Do better if you go over it instead of under it." However, it's also very clear that Jem takes an immediate shining to Dill since Jem hushes his sister when she inadvertently embarrasses Dill by asking about his father. Since Jem likes Dill so instantaneously and since Dill becomes a very important character in the story, an interviewer might ask Jem, "What did you find fascinating about Dill the first time you met him?"

To Kill a Mockingbird has two major plots. The first involves the children's coming-of-age story; the second involves Atticus's defense of Tom Robinson. The major conflict concerning the children's coming-of-age story is their struggle to accept that which they don't understand, especially people like their neighbor Arthur (Boo) Radley. Harper Lee begins to develop the conflict between the children and Arthur in this very first chapter. Dill becomes very fascinated with the rumors, myths, and mystery surrounding Arthur and comes up with the idea to try and get him to come out of his home. Since Dill's fascination with Arthur is very critical for the development of the children's coming-of-age plotline, an interviewer might ask Dill, "What do you find most fascinating about the rumors concerning Arthur Radley?"

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