Socratic Seminar Questions
1) Discuss Atticus’s parenting style. What is his relationship to his children like? How does he seek to instill conscience in them? a. Atticus is a wise man, committed to justice and equality, and his parenting style is based on fostering these virtues in his children—he even encourages Jem and Scout to call him “Atticus” so that they can interact on terms as equal as possible. Throughout the novel, Atticus works to develop Scout’s and Jem’s respective consciences, through both teaching, as when he tells Scout to put herself in a person’s shoes before she judges them.
2) Analyze the trial scene and its relationship to the rest of the novel. b. To Kill a Mockingbird explores the questions of innocence and harsh experience, good and evil, from several different angles. Tom Robinson’s trial explores these ideas by examining the evil of racial prejudice, its ability to poison an otherwise admirable Southern town and destroy an innocent man, and its effect on young Jem and Scout.
3) Discuss the author’s portrayal of the black community and the characters of Calpurnia and Tom Robinson. Are they realistic or idealized? c. The black community in Maycomb is quite idealized, especially in the scenes at the black church and in the “colored balcony” during the trial. Lee’s portrayal of the black community isn’t unrealistic or unbelievable; it is important to point out, however, that she emphasizes all of the good qualities of the community without ever pointing out any of the bad ones. The black community is shown to be loving, affectionate, welcoming, pious, honest, hardworking, and close-knit. Calpurnia and Tom, members of this community, possess remarkable dignity and moral courage.
4) Explain why Jem crys when the hole in the tree is filled with cement? d. Boo Radley uses the knothole in the tree to leave gifts for Jem and his sister Scout. This is his only way to connect...