Suggested Essay Topics
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?
2. Describe the outward appearance and the actions of Miss Caroline. Are there any contradictions between the two?
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.
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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.
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.
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?
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?
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?
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.
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?
(The entire section is 1,411 words.)