To Kill a Mockingbird - Lesson Plans and Activities

Harper Lee

  • In Boo's Shoes, an eNotes Original To Kill A Mockingbird Comic

    Our eNotes original comic "In Boo's Shoes" visually illustrates Maycomb through Boo's eyes. It draws direct quotes from one of the most important passages in To Kill A Mockingbird, in which Scout is finally able to take Atticus' advice and walk in Boo's shoes. From his perspective, we can see the passage of time in Maycomb. This comic provides students a window into the psyche of Boo Radley.

  • To Kill a Mockingbird eNotes Response Journal

    The narrator remembers Maycomb, Alabama, as “a tired old town.” What is your impression of Maycomb, based on her detailed description of it? How is life in Maycomb in the 1930s different from life in a small town today? Why are the children so fascinated by Boo Radley? How do their beliefs about Boo differ from the reality of Boo’s life and personal history? Describe Scout’s first morning in the first grade. How does she find herself in conflict with Miss Caroline? Which details suggest that Scout is both independent and intelligent? What are the economic conditions in Maycomb County after “the crash” (an allusion to the fall of the stock market and the beginning of the Great Depression of the 1930s)? How does Atticus explain them to Scout? How does Jem regard Scout, who is four years younger than he is? Describe the role he takes in their relationship. How does he assert his authority as Scout’s big brother? How do you think Jem feels about his little sister? Miss Maudie says, “Atticus Finch is the same in his house as he is on the public streets.” Explain what you think Miss Maudie is saying about his character. What is unusual about the snowman Scout and Jem build? What do they do to satisfy their father after he insists they change its appearance? Why does Miss Maudie burst into laughter when Scout later refers to the snowman as “the Morphodite”? Describe Mrs. Henry Lafayette Dubose and her treatment of Jem and Scout. Why do you think Atticus insists that they treat her with respect, regardless of how she behaves? Do you think he should ask this of Jem and Scout? Why or why not? Atticus says the following about being courageous: “It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do.” Do you agree with Atticus? Why or why not? Describe the differences between the crowd that gathers in Atticus’s front yard and the one that shows up at the jail. What is the purpose of each group of men? How do they behave differently?

  • To Kill a Mockingbird eNotes Lesson Plan

    In 1993, when To Kill a Mockingbird had been in print for 33 years straight, author Harper Lee was asked to write an introduction to accompany a new anniversary edition of her Pulitzer Prize–winning book. She refused, on the grounds that as a reader she doesn’t care for introductions. Sounding as matter-of-fact as Atticus and as spirited as Scout, Harper insists “Mockingbird still says what it has to say; it has managed to survive the years without preamble.” Indeed, Mockingbird still says what it has to say and says it gracefully, intelligently, and with a sly and sustained wit that tempers the lessons imparted by the book, enabling the novel to teach generation after generation the meaning of courage without ever feeling didactic. The characters that populate this novel, from the most minor to the most iconic, remain seared in the public imagination; Atticus reigns as the most noble parent ever brought to life, while Jean Louise—“Scout” to us all—is unforgettable as the precocious, scrappy narrator trying to make sense of the world. Like Scout, Lee was a tomboy in her own right who grew up in a small Alabama town that surely is reflected in the narrator’s observations. Her father was an attorney and a member of the state legislature. And as much as Lee might protest, to completely remove To Kill a Mockingbird from the place and time of its birth would serve to cut the contemporary reader off from a critical moment in American history that critically informs the novel. In the decade preceding the publication of To Kill a Mockingbird, racism was not only rampant but entrenched in the very fabric of society. The civil rights movement was just gaining momentum, with several landmark court cases helping turn the tide. In 1954, Brown v. the Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas launched the desegregation of public schools. The Montgomery Bus Boycott followed in 1955, prompted by Rosa Parks’s famous refusal to give up her seat to a white man and her subsequent arrest. Yet that same year saw tragedy when fourteen-year-old Emmett Till was murdered for allegedly whistling at a white woman. In this case, however, instead of Tom Robinson’s being convicted of a crime he didn’t commit, the all-white jury lost no chance in freeing the two white men who had in fact, as history would prove, murdered a young black boy. It is what has changed in these intervening years and what sorrowfully remains the same that comprises the core of the dynamic conversation readers still enjoy with Lee’s classic. Set in the 1930s, during the searing tyranny of the Great Depression, Maycomb County has little room for compassion; thirty years later laws were changing, but resistance was strong and clear. Though the book was published during a time of great social change pivotal in our civil rights history, modern readers still probe the issues of fairness, justice, and the mutability of human nature with just as much interest and a very clear understanding of the horrors of bigotry. In short, cast through the prism of one small town, the story taps into the most universal truths inherent in our very humanity—innocence, corruption, prejudice, hatred, curiosity, fatalism, respect, courage, and compassion. She has wrapped this all in the gorgeously wrought language and exquisite precision of which only the best writers are capable, allowing Mockingbird to be examined and enjoyed on every level, from literary to legal, while remaining a work of extraordinary pathos and beauty.