Grade 8 Period 1
25 March 2015
TKAM Socratic Seminar Questions
1. This book is continually banned from the school reading list because of racism, sex, and foul language. Do you believe this book should be banned? Even though this book was published in the 1960’s, how can this book relate to today’s society? Considering that many books come and go in public school curriculum, why does this book endure?
In my opinion, I think “How to Kill a Mockingbird” should be banned especially in during the time the book became published because of the many controversial issues it contained that were racist and offensive towards others. Throughout the book, there were examples of profanity and racial discrimination against African Americans. To prove that, it’s stated several times in the book that a black person will always be convicted if it’s a white person accusing them, which explains the inequality between the two races. Although “How to Kill a Mockingbird” was written in the 1960’s , all the themes in the book still continue to occur in today’s society, which is another reason why I believe the book should be banned. This novel endures in public school curriculum because of its high popularity rate and enduring story of racism and redemption while growing up in a small Southern town during the Great Depression.
2. What characters do you “recognize” from you own life experience? Are there people you have met who have similar personas, beliefs or actions? Explain.
3. How do Scout, Jem, and Dill characterize Boo Radley at the beginning of the book? In what way does Boo's past foreshadow his method of protecting Jem and Scout from Bob Ewell? Does this repetition of aggression make him more or less of a sympathetic character?
Scout and Jem do not really meet Boo Radley at the beginning of the novel. However, he is a main thought in their imaginations and they know, he is treated like a ghost or, as they sometimes call him, "a monster". During the first summer in the novel, they make plans to lure him out. They even compete with each other to see who can get the closest to him. Dill makes up a new game, the Boo Radley game. They make up stories about his life and reenact them like a play. None of the children think about the fact that their game may be hurting the people inside the Radley house who can hear the children's games through their windows. Boo Radley's history of violence is more a myth than reality. As Miss Maudie tells the children in Chapter 5, the stories about Boo are a combination of superstition and fantasy. However, because he has been so intimidated in his home that Boo could possibly ran into his father who refused to let him leave. Boo has made efforts to be in communion with the children, while stealthily watching them. His mending of Jem's pants on the night when the children came to the windows in a dare and Jem tore his pants on the wire fence in from Mr. Radley's shotgun, along with his little gifts hidden in the knothole of the tree all indicate his efforts to create a friendship with Boo. When he discovers that the children are threatened by the Bob Ewell, Boo seeks to protect what he cares greatly for. While panicking and fearing fear for the children, Boo stabs Bob Ewell who is of no value to him anymore, while the children certainly are.
4. Decide whether women are portrayed in a positive or a negative way in the book. No matter which side you choose, select two female characters as evidence to support your argument. Please be sure to mention specific plot events and tell how the two women you’ve selected prove that the novel shows women in either a positive or negative light.
There are a range of different women in “To Kill a Mockingbird” and each are portrayed in a different way. The book takes place during the 1930's, which was an era when women were still the submissive housewives and at home looking after their children. In Southern America, Feminism was unheard of, however, the author introduces the reader to Scout Finch. Harper Lee portrays Scout as the girl who wouldn't obey to be normal. Scout was uncomfortable with this life, and would rather be playing with Jem in a dirty old tire than sit in a room drinking tea. Scout was a tomboy because she didn’t have a mother in her life. Aunt Alexandra was the closest person Scout had to a mother and Scout did not agree with all the rules Aunt Alexandra introduced her to. Scout, however, does recognize the stronger women in the book as well such as Calpurnia and Miss Maudie. These Woman are ahead of their time in their beliefs of the society they live in especially Miss Maudie. She is extremely critical of the ways of the women in Maycomb, and she does not tell Scout to act more like a lady like Aunt Alexandra and Miss Dubose do. Instead in smart ways she encourages Scout to be the way she is. She also realizes that Atticus is raising his children, especially Scout the best way he can, and that it is probably the best way for Scout as well.
5. Re-read Aunt Alexandra and Miss Maudie’s conversation on p. 236. What are they saying about the moral responsibility of the citizens of Maycomb in the trial’s outcome?
Aunt Alexandra is very conscious of Maycomb's social values and chooses to live within its restrictions, and "given the slightest chance she would exercise her royal prerogative: she would arrange, advise, caution, and warn.” On the other hand, Miss Maudie sets herself toward the outside of the environment of Maycomb. Like Atticus, she stays within bounds, but follows her own code. Miss Maudie reminds Alexandra that Atticus is doing a great thing and that many citizens in the town support him, even if that support is quiet. Aunt Alexandra is also very critical of how Atticus treats the children, while Miss Maudie is much more sympathetic. But then, Miss Maudie has an amusing sense of humor, which is a trait Aunt Alexandra does not have.
6. Did Tom Robinson have a fair trial? To what extent was Mayella free to speak the truth?
7. Rank in order of culpability (blameworthiness or responsibility) for the death of Tom Robinson the following characters: Bob Ewell, Mr. Gilman (prosecuting attorney), Mayella Ewell, individuals on the jury,