Illustration of a bird perched on a scale of justice

To Kill a Mockingbird

by Harper Lee

Start Free Trial

Suggested Essay Topics

Download PDF PDF Page Citation Cite Share Link Share

Chapter 1 1. Describe Boo Radley, through the eyes of Jem and Scout Finch. Discuss his habits, his appearance, and his actions.

2. After defining the words “Caste” and “Class,” describe the caste and class system in Maycomb. Do you think such a system would still exist in the town today? Why, or why not?

Chapter 2 1. Contrast the teaching styles of Atticus Finch and Miss Caroline Fisher.

2. Describe the outward appearance and the actions of Miss Caroline. Are there any contradictions between the two?

Chapter 3 1. Contrast Atticus Finch’s idea of the law and Mr. Radley’s idea of the law.

2. Compare and contrast Walter Cunningham and Burris Ewell.

Chapter 4 1. What evidence does one have that Boo Radley is trying to make friends with the children?

2. How is Scout growing and maturing as the story progresses?

Chapter 5 1. Explain why Miss Maudie Atkinson would be a good friend for a young, motherless girl to have.

2. What lessons did Atticus Finch try to teach the children when he found them using a fishing line to give a message to Arthur Radley?

Chapter 6 1. Why did Jem return for his pants?

2. Why were the children going to spy on Arthur Radley on the last night of summer?

Chapter 7 1. What were the six gifts placed in the tree? Why do you think those gifts were chosen?

2. What are the children beginning to think of Boo as a person?

Chapter 8 1. Describe Miss Maudie’s reactions to her home burning. Tell why she was able to behave in this way.

2. Describe the colors of the snowman/woman. Tell how the colors relate to Maycomb. Describe the outward appearance of the snow person and how it changes. Describe the interior of the snow person. Is there symbolism relating to gender bias here? Why, or why not?

Chapter 9 1. Compare and contrast Atticus and Jack. Consider their methods of disciplining Scout. How are they the same? How are they different? Which person do you think is more effective in getting the desired result? Why do you believe this is true?

2. Describe the outward pressures on Scout to “become a lady.” Do you think Atticus applies the same pressures? Why, or why not? Why do you think Atticus behaves in this way?

Chapter 10 1. Atticus had many accomplishments. What were some of these? Jem and Scout did not recognize their father’s accomplishments, they wanted him to distinguish himself in other ways. When Atticus killed the dog, Jem decided to keep this silent. Why do you think this happened?

2. Contrast marksmanship with playing the piano, according to Miss Maudie. Explain why Atticus refused to hunt.

Chapter 11 1. Describe Mrs. Dubose. Describe her home. Does the setting in which Mrs. Dubose lives seem suited to her personality? Explain.

2. According to Atticus, what is real courage? Give examples of real courage you have seen in To Kill a Mockingbird.

Chapter 12 1. Describe the double life that Calpurnia leads. Why does she lead this double life?

2. Compare and contrast the church service in Calpurnia’s church with a church service in Jem and Scout’s church. Why do the differences occur? Do you think the church services in the two churches will become more alike or more different as time goes by? Why?

Chapter 13 1. Compare and contrast Scout’s and Alexandra’s definitions of “a fine person.”

2. Both Jem and Atticus tell Scout that it is not time to worry. What does this tell you about the speakers?


(This entire section contains 1411 words.)

See This Study Guide Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this study guide. You'll also get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

14 1. Compare Dill’s fictional and factual accounts of running away.

2. What evidence do you see that Jem is growing up? What evidence do you see that Jem is not yet an adult?

Chapter 15 1. Compare and contrast the events of the Saturday night and the events of Sunday evening.

2. Discuss the bravery of the children, especially in contrast to the cowardly mob.

Chapter 16 1. Describe Judge Taylor. What do you think was unusual about him? What kind of courtroom did he run?

2. Describe the day of the trial in Maycomb. Is there another event in a small town to which the event could be likened? Why do you think so many people attended?

Chapter 17 1. Describe the Ewell home. Compare it and contrast it to the home in which Scout and Jem had grown up in Maycomb.

2. Why did Jem think Tom would be found innocent? Why was Scout more hesitant to believe that way?

Chapter 18 1. Is Mayella telling the truth or is she lying? What does she say and do in court that makes you feel this way?

2. Describe Atticus’ behavior in court toward Mayella. How do you think he feels about her and what she says?

Chapter 19 1. Contrast and compare the style of Atticus’ and Gilmer’s cross-examinations.

2. Compare and contrast Mayella’s and Tom’s style of answering questions and compare their testimonies. How are they alike? How are they different?

Chapter 20 1. Give a of Atticus’s final speech to the jury. Why do you think that he loosened his clothing and removed his coat before he began?

2. Describe Atticus’s view of lies and immorality. Do you think his view is typical of most of Maycomb society? Why, or why not?

3. What was the unwritten social code that Mayella broke? Are there unwritten social codes that Atticus himself has in his life?

Chapter 21 1. Describe Atticus’ actions after the trial. What was the significance of each action?

2. What impressions did Scout have as she waited for the decision?

Chapter 22 1. How did many people show their appreciation to Atticus? What does Atticus say and do when he sees their response to him?

2. What did Miss Maudie do for the children to make them feel better the morning after the trial? What did she say to them that made them feel better? Do you think she believed what she told them? Why do you believe this way?

Chapter 23 1. What were the four kinds of people in the world according to Jem? According to Jem’s grouping system, where would Little Chuck Little who helped calm Miss Caroline when she saw the cootie be placed? Do you agree with Jem that the Finch family in Maycomb was in a different group than the Ewell family? Why?

2. Mr. Ewell spat in Atticus’s face. What were some reasons Atticus did not fight back? Which man had greater courage?

Chapter 24 1. Aunt Alexandra is trying to teach Scout to be a lady. From what went on at the meeting, what is a lady, according to Miss Maudie’s example? according to Aunt Alexandra’s example? according to Scout’s thoughts?

2. What is a missionary circle? Describe the women’s missionary meeting. Is there any irony evident at the meeting? Explain.

Chapter 25 1. Tell about Mr. Underwood’s editorial. To what does he compare Tom? Is this a good analogy? Why?

2. Compare and contrast the Robinson Place with the Radley Place. Do ghosts exist at both places? Explain.

Chapter 26 1. Why did Miss Gates use current events in her class? Knowing what Miss Gates said on the courthouse steps, are there any inconsistencies in what she says in the classroom and what she does and says outside the class? How is this similar or different from Atticus?

2. Compare a democracy and a dictatorship. How are they different?

Chapter 27 1. Why was Robert Ewell bitter, according to Atticus? How did he show his bitterness?

2. Compare and contrast the break-in on the Barber sisters’ house and the attempted break-in on Judge Taylor’s house.

3. Describe in detail Scout’s costume for the pageant.

Chapter 28 1. Describe the Maycomb Halloween celebration.

2. What events contributed most to the confrontation that occurs after the celebration?

Chapter 29 1. Describe what happened after the children arrive home. Why did Boo decide to stay at the Finch home instead of sneaking back home? What feelings do you think Boo was experiencing?

2. Describe Boo Radley. Compare and contrast his true description with the description that the children held of him in Part One.

3. In Part One Scout called Arthur Radley, “Boo.” Miss Maudie tells her to call him, “Arthur.” She thinks of him as Mr. Arthur on her way home from third grade. When she sees him for the first time, she calls him, “Boo.” What is the significance of each of these names?

Chapter 30 1. Tell Atticus’s story of the murder and what he thought should be done.

2. What did Sheriff Tate want to do about the murder and why?

Chapter 31 1. What could be seen from Arthur’s porch?

2. Are there indications in the chapter that Boo is sick and will die?


Ideas for Reports and Papers


Topics for Discussion