Advanced Placement in English Literature
and Composition Teaching Unit
1. What narrative point of view does Harper Lee use to begin the story? The story is told in fi rst person, from the point of view of Scout, who is six years old at the beginning of the story. The story is told as a fl ashback, with the adult character of Scout describing events that happened when she was a child.
2. What can the reader expect to learn from this narrative point of view? The reader will only learn about the events that the narrator thinks are signifi cant. The narrator will also include her thoughts, opinions, and biases, and she will explain events based on her perspective. Seeing a story only through the narrator’s eyes can lead to misunderstandings of other characters’ actions, because the reader does not know those characters’ motivations and intentions. By having the story told by the adult Scout, the reader can also expect that each event that she describes may be somehow related to one of the themes of the book.
3. What is the setting of the story? How does Harper Lee use this setting to set the tone? Lee set the story in a small southern town in the mid-1930s, with the story opening in the summer when the children are not in school. In general, life was considered to be much slower in the South during the summer because of the heat and humidity. People sat on their front porches in the evening, because there was no air-conditioning or television, and children had to create their own fun, because they did not have enough money to buy toys and games to entertain themselves. Scout, Jem, and Dill spend most of their time making up games to play outside. In this period, it was not unusual that the children’s mother died from a heart attack, because medical technology was not sophisticated enough to save a person’s life. Lee uses the small-town setting to set a tone of familiarity among the neighbors, but she also defi nes the strict rules of Southern society—particularly the different rules that apply to African-Americans and whites. Because the children spend their days playing outside, Lee is able to have Scout describe the neighborhood, introduce most of the neighbors, and give her opinion of them. The death of Scout’s mother gives Lee the opportunity to immediately introduce the relationship of the African-American housekeeper in an upper-middle class white home.
4. Why does Jem tell Scout (the narrator) not to ask Dill about his father? What can the reader infer about Jem and Scout’s relationship from this exchange? After Dill says that he does not have a father, Jem tells Scout to be quiet so that she does not continue to embarrass Dill. The reader can infer that as Jem’s younger sister, Scout listens to what he says, even though there are times she questions his actions. From Scout’s explanation of their mother’s death, the reader can also infer that Jem is more sensitive to being asked about an absent parent than Scout is. Scout was two years old, and Jem was six when their mother died, so she does not relate to the loss of a parent like Jem does.
5. Briefl y describe how the Radleys are different from the other people in Maycomb. The Radleys keep to themselves, and they do not visit their neighbors or receive visitors on Sundays like other people in Maycomb. They do not go to church on Sunday. Before he died, Mr. Radley did not go to work. Unlike the other people in the neighborhood, the Radleys never come outside, sit on their front porch, or help their neighbors. When Boo got in trouble as a young man, Mr. Radley made him stay home, and no one has seen Boo since then. Based on the story of Boo stabbing his father’s leg with scissors, some of the neighbors believe that Boo is crazy. The various stories about the family and about Boo lead Jem to describe Boo as dangerous, saying he eats raw squirrels and cats, has blood-red hands and a “…long jagged scare that ran cross his face.” (p. 13)
6. Why does Jem take three days to accept Dill’s dare and go up to the Radleys’ home? What theme is Lee introducing with Jem’s response to Dill’s dare? Jem and Scout know all the stories about Boo, and they are afraid that Boo will attack them. Jem weighs his fear of Boo against the humiliation he will suffer if he does not accept Dill’s dare. Lee is introducing the theme of honor.
Note to Teacher: You may want to point out to the students that Lee introduces the theme of honor based on a simple dare between two children and suggest that they watch the development of this theme as the story progresses.
7. What does Harper Lee mean by calling Miss Stephanie Crawford, “a neighborhood scold?” (p. 11)
Miss Crawford claims to know everything about all the neighbors, and she gossips with anyone who will listen. By calling her a “scold,” Harper Lee is showing her dislike for gossip.
8. From the beginning of the story, the narrator refl ects on events of the past. How is this evident to the reader, and how may it affect suspense and story development? The fi rst phrase of this chapter says that the story really begins when Jem broke his arm, and then Scout describes how many years passed before they discussed the events that caused Jem’s accident. With this type of retrospective, the narrator already knows how the story concludes before beginning to tell the reader. By using a retrospective approach, Lee is able to create suspense for the reader and provide both a child’s perspective of the events as they unfold, as well as an adult’s perspective with the narrator telling the story years later.
9. What is the fi rst event that Lee uses to begin building suspense in the story? In the fi rst paragraph, Scout says that her brother, Jem, suffered a severe break of his arm at his elbow. She assures the reader that it healed so that he could play football. She then says that they disagree as to the cause of the accident, but she does not tell the reader how the accident happened or who was involved.
10. Briefl y describe Boo Radley. What purpose does Boo serve in this story? Through Scout’s eyes, the reader is introduced to Boo Radley as a very scary character. She refers to him as “…a malevolent phantom.” (p. 8) The children have never met him, but they have heard many stories about him, all of which blame Boo for the things that go wrong in Maycomb, from freezing plants and minor crimes to suspicious deaths of pets and property damage. Jem describes Boo as being over six feet tall, with yellow rotten teeth, bulging eyes, and drool running down his chin.
Boo serves as an element of mystery in the story. Although the children are afraid of him as seen by Jem’s claim that Boo will “…gouge your eyes out” (p. 14), they are also curious to fi nd out if he is really as mean and evil as the stories make him out to be. He is the focus of many of the children’s adventures and keep them from becoming bored.
11. What is the allusion that Lee makes in the following passage? There was no hurry, for there was nowhere to go, nothing to buy and no money to buy it with, nothing to see outside the boundaries of Maycomb County. But it was a time of vague optimism for some of the people: Maycomb County had recently been told that it had nothing to fear but fear itself. (pp. 5–6)
The phrase, “…nothing to fear but fear itself” is from Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s fi rst inaugural speech in 1932. FDR was elected president in the midst of the Great Depression, and his speech was intended to inspire hope in the American people that better times were ahead, and the depression was coming to an end.
1. Why does Miss Caroline hit Scout with the ruler?
Miss Caroline hits Scout with the ruler because Scout makes Miss Caroline look foolish and condescending. Scout tells her that by offering Walter a quarter for lunch, Miss Caroline is shaming him. As the teacher in the classroom, Miss Caroline is the authority fi gure, and she is trying to be nice. However, by telling Walter to take her quarter, Miss Caroline comes across as though she is superior to Walter—she has suffi cient money to give him a quarter for lunch and assumes he can afford to pay her back tomorrow.
2. Is Scout’s fi rst day of school what she expected? Why or why not? Scout’s fi rst day is not at all what she expected. Scout is excited about fi nally getting to go to school and learn new subjects. However, rather than being challenged to learn new concepts, she is bored and gets into trouble because she already knows how to read and write. Then her teacher hits her hand with a ruler when she tries to be helpful at the class’ urging. She has to stand in the corner until it is time to go to lunch.
3. How does Harper Lee use the school setting to give the reader important exposition about Southern culture?
Lee uses Scout’s class to illustrate the impoverished life of southern farm families, particularly during the Great Depression. Many of the students are older than Scout, because they are repeating fi rst grade. Scout describes these students as being from the country, and they do not have enough money or food for lunch. Some students bring pails of food to eat at school, and only the children who live in town get to go home for lunch. Scout is the only one who knows how to read and write, and Scout walks home for lunch. By describing the students in these terms, Lee shows that Scout’s family is more affl uent than most of the other students’ families. Lee also sets the tone for Scout to have a negative and disappointing experience in school.
Note to Teacher: Although it is not specifi cally stated in the text, the class also illustrates the segregation of the South. Although Scout differentiates between town and country children, she makes no mention of any African-American students in the class, because African- Americans were not allowed in white schools.
4. How does Harper Lee show that Miss Caroline is not familiar with Maycomb customs? One of the fi rst things that Miss Caroline tells the students is that she is from Winston County, which the students know seceded from Alabama and sided with the Union during the Civil War. Lee has Miss Caroline use a different method of teaching than the other teachers in the school. The reader can infer from Miss Caroline’s interaction with Walter Cunningham that she does not understand the extent of extreme poverty in the Maycomb area.
5. What could be Lee’s motivation for having Miss Caroline come from another county rather than from Maycomb?
Note to Teacher: Students’ answers will vary. One point to emphasize is that Lee is able to use Miss Caroline’s unfamiliarity with the area as a means to explain to the reader the customs and circumstances in a small southern town.
6. How does Lee create sympathy for Miss Caroline at the end of the chapter? When the bell rings for lunch, Scout is the last one to leave and sees Miss Caroline “…sink down into her chair and bury her head in her arms.” (p. 22) While standing in front of the class, Miss Caroline appears to be confi dent in what she is doing and saying—even when she offers the quarter to Walter Cunningham. However, this gesture of sinking into her chair shows that she is upset, because the morning did not go well.
7. Describe Lee’s use of humor as Jem tries to explain Miss Caroline’s teaching theories to Scout.
Jem claims that Miss Caroline is introducing the Dewey Decimal System as a new method to learn to read, and he compares it to learning about cows by milking one. This comparison sidetracks Scout, because she has no interest in learning about cows. Jem gets frustrated with Scout, because all country people want to learn about cows. Scout does not question Jem further about the Dewey Decimal System since she is young enough to believe everything Jem says. In reality, Jem has confused Melvil Dewey’s system for cataloging books in a library with the teaching theory of John Dewey.
1. Why does Jem invite Walter to dinner? What social issue does Lee introduce with the character of Walter Cunningham?
Jem invites Walter home for dinner because he knows that Atticus has helped Walter’s father and if Walter does not eat with them, he will have no lunch. Lee uses Walter to illustrate the problem of severe poverty prevalent in rural areas during the Great Depression, particularly in the South. Walter’s family owns land on which they grow crops, but because of the Depression, the Cunninghams cannot sell their crops. Therefore, they are extremely poor and cannot buy any of the basic essentials needed for living. Lee also uses Walter to illustrate the pride that the farm families had; Walter does not act disrespectful to Miss Cunningham, but his pride prevents him from taking her quarter to buy lunch as well as his initial hesitation to join Jem and Scout for lunch.
2. What does Atticus mean when he says to Scout, “—until you climb into his skin and walk around in it?” (p. 30)
By telling Scout to try to see things from Miss Caroline’s perspective, Atticus is trying to teach Scout to be empathetic and compassionate. He wants her to imagine what it is like to be Miss Caroline—new to Maycomb and unfamiliar with its people and customs—before Scout judges Miss Caroline too harshly. With this phrase, Atticus explains to Scout the basic philosophy by which he tries to live.
3. Compare and contrast Walter Cunningham and Burris Ewell. What is Lee illustrating with the differences in these two characters?
Lee is illustrating the difference between simply being poor and being “poor white trash.” Burris Ewell epitomizes “poor white trash” with his dirty appearance, no shoes, and crude behavior, whereas Walter Cunningham is the child of a struggling, but proud, cash-poor landowner. Both Walter and Burris are repeating fi rst grade. Walter comes to school when he can, but he misses most days in the spring, because he has to help his father with the crops. Walter does not talk back to the teacher or fi ght with other students. Burris, on the other hand, only comes to school on the fi rst day each year, and he fi ghts with Little Chuck and threatens Miss Caroline.
4. Why does Atticus not want Scout to tell Miss Caroline about their compromise? What does this indicate about Atticus’ character?
Atticus is an open-minded person that sees the good in people. Atticus disagrees with Miss Caroline about reading with Scout at home, but he does not want to criticize her to Scout. If Scout says anything to Miss Caroline about their compromise, it could cause confl ict for Scout by making her defend her father to her teacher or vice versa. Rather than put Scout in this position, Atticus prefers to keep their reading time secret. Note to Teacher: The students may see this as Atticus simply wanting to avoid a confl ict with the teacher. This is a valid question for them to consider at this point in the book.
5. The reader learns that Scout and Jem’s mother is dead, and they have an African- American housekeeper named Calpurnia. What signifi cance does Calpurnia have for the plot?
Calpurnia introduces the reader to the unusual relationship between the children of a family and an African-American woman working in an upper-middle class Southern household. During the time of slavery, most affl uent white families in the South had African-American women who took care of the day-to-day needs of the children. The children loved these women, but there was always a dividing line that kept the African-American women from becoming too much a part of the family. In the time of To Kill a Mockingbird, slavery no longer exists, but African-American women are still employed as housekeepers and nannies of the Southern families’ children. On one hand, the children must obey these women as they would their mother, and she corrects the children when they do something wrong. However, the Southern white families stop short of treating the African-American people as equals with respect to social status, politics, and economics. Lee illustrates this disparity when Scout is unkind to Walter Cunningham. After Scout says unkind things to and about Walter, Calpurnia disciplines Scout by making her bring her plate into the kitchen to eat. However, Jem does not ask permission for Walter to join them for dinner; he simply tells Calpurnia to set an extra place at the table for Walter, and Calpurnia complies.
6. Although Scout does not learn anything academic on the fi rst day of school, she has several opportunities to learn about human nature, social customs, and relationships. Briefl y describe some of the non-academic lessons Scout learns on the fi rst day of school.
Scout learns that all adults do not interact with children in the same way. When Scout has her fi rst encounter with Miss Caroline, Scout fi nds out that all authority fi gures are not like her father. Scout is accustomed to Atticus treating her with the same respect he shows adults. He is patient and open-minded when listening to Scout’s questions, and he thoughtfully explains decisions that he makes. Miss Caroline simply gives Scout an order to stop reading with her father, rather than taking the time to explain her concerns. Scout learns that she should respect other people as individuals rather than making assumptions based on their name. When Walter joins Scout’s family for lunch, Scout is surprised that Atticus treats Walter as an honored guest rather than just a “Cunningham.” Then when Scout makes fun of Walter for pouring molasses all over his food, her father defends Walter, and Calpurnia makes her leave the table. Calpurnia then gets upset with Scout for acting like she is better than Walter.
Scout learns that she will have to deal with unpleasant people in life, and one alternative is to compromise. Because she does not like Miss Caroline, Scout wants to quit school. However, Atticus suggests a compromise—if Scout will go back to school and try to get along with Miss Caroline, they can continue their reading time at home.
Scout learns that not everyone lives by the same rules. When she uses Burris Ewell as justifi cation for not having to go back to school, Atticus surprises her by saying that people in Maycomb have learned not to expect the Ewells to follow rules that everyone else follows.
1. Briefl y describe the symbolism of Scout’s nickname and how it is appropriate. Scout is a tomboy who is curious and searching for, or scouting around for, new experiences and explanations. Scout frequently asks people to explain answers they have given her. For example, when she sees the sparkle of something in the knothole of the Radleys’ tree, she investigates the tree and takes the gum home with her. When Scout and Jem fi nd the coins, she asks him why they are important; she then asks what he means by smelling death; she always is questioning Jem.
2. What does Jem’s response to Scout’s chewing the gum tell the reader about his feelings for her?
Jem’s response tells the reader that Jem really does care about Scout. He gets mad at her when she tells him where she found the gum, but he is really afraid that she will get sick and die. His reaction is based on old rumors that the Radleys’ trees are poisonous and will kill anyone that touches them.
3. What is Lee’s intent by having Scout say:
“…As for me, I knew nothing except what I gathered from Time magazine and reading everything I could lay hands on at home, but as I inched sluggishly along the treadmill of the Maycomb County school system, I could not help receiving the impression that I was being cheated out of something. Out of what I knew not, yet I did not believe that twelve years of unrelieved boredom was exactly what the state had in mind for me.” (pp. 32–33) Lee is reinforcing the concept that Scout will not learn much in school and that most of her education would be outside of school. The type of things that Scout learns outside of school, such as compassion and open-mindedness, are more important than academic facts. This is an example of the adult narrator refl ecting on her experiences when she was a child in school. At the time of the story, Scout does not know what her remaining years in school will be like, but the adult narrator has already lived through her academic experience and comments on how negative it was.
4. What do Scout’s reasons for wanting to stop the game foreshadow? Her fi rst reason is that she heard someone inside the house laughing when she rolled into Radleys’ front yard. This could foreshadow some future interaction between Scout and the Radleys. Her other reason is that she does not want Atticus to know they were playing a game about Boo Radley. This could foreshadow Scout’s increasing awareness of her father’s attitude of kindness toward others. Note to Teacher: These are additional examples of the impact of Lee using the adult narrator to describe only specifi c events of her childhood that relate to the theme.
5. What literary device is Lee using in the following quotation? “…some tinfoil was sticking in a knot hole just above my eye level, winking at me in the afternoon sun.” (p. 33)
This is an example of personifi cation. Tinfoil is not alive and does not have eyes with which to wink. Lee is using this literary device to show that the tinfoil was refl ecting the sun.
6. What can the reader infer from the two Indian head pennies? Someone in the Radley house is trying to get Jem and Scout’s attention. Jem’s reaction to fi nding the pennies is different from his reaction to Scout fi nding the gum, which he made her spit out. Finding Indian head pennies is a sign of good luck, and Jem has always wanted some of these pennies, so the reader can infer that the person who put them in the tree is wishing the children good luck.
Note to Teacher: The students may also say that someone is using the knot hole to hide special treasures of their own. If so, you should remind them that Scout and Jem consider this possibility when they fi rst fi nd the pennies, but they realize this is unlikely.
7. What character trait do Jem and Scout illustrate with their ambivalence about taking the pennies?
Jem and Scout are ambivalent about taking the pennies if they belong to someone else. This shows that they want to do what is right and not steal something that belongs to someone else.
1. What emotion is Scout really displaying in the following passage? What does Lee show about Scout’s character through this passage?
…Dill was becoming something of a trial anyway, following Jem about. He had asked me earlier in the summer to marry him, then he promptly forgot about it. He staked me out, marked as his property, said I was the only girl he would ever love, then he neglected me. I beat him up twice but it did no good, he only grew closer to Jem. (p. 41)
Scout is jealous, because the boys exclude her from many of their activities. Jem plays with her when Dill is not there, but the boys have started including her only when they want her to do something specifi c, such as run errands. Lee reinforces Scout’s desire to be thought of as one of the boys—to be a tomboy. Scout’s solution to being ignored is to beat Dill up rather than “act like a girl” and cry.
2. How does Scout’s conversation with Miss Maudie develop the reader’s sympathy for Arthur (Boo) Radley?
Until this point, the reader has only heard the children’s conversations about Boo Radley being crazy, mean, and dangerous. Miss Maudie implies that Arthur’s father, Mr. Radley, was abusive, and Arthur was really a nice, respectful son. Other than Atticus’ warnings to leave Boo alone, Miss Maudie’s comments about Arthur being a kind, sweet boy are the fi rst statements that Scout (and the reader) hear to question the image of a cruel, psychotic person. Miss Maudie’s comments also present an image of a sad life for Arthur.
3. How does Lee use humor to discredit Miss Stephanie’s stories about Boo? When Scout tells Miss Maudie about the stories she has heard about Boo, Miss Maudie makes fun of Miss Stephanie. She tells Scout that she had asked Miss Stephanie if she made room in her bed when she saw Boo outside her window. Scout does not understand the sexual implications of this, but Miss Maudie is using humor to show Scout that she should not believe everything she hears from others, particularly Stephanie Crawford.
4. Why is Atticus angry with Jem, Scout, and Dill?
Atticus catches the children trying to sneak a note into the Radleys’ window. He has already told them to leave the Radleys alone, so he is angry both because they have disobeyed him and because they are bothering the Radleys.
5. Based on Atticus’ conversations with the children, briefl y describe his attitude toward the Radleys. What conclusions can the reader infer about Atticus’ character? Atticus believes that the Radleys have a right to be left alone. He does not want the children to bother the Radleys or make fun of them. The reader can infer that Atticus respects people as individuals, is a peacemaker, and believes everyone has the right to privacy.
6. What are specifi c examples that the children are not paying attention to Atticus’ advice about their actions toward other people? What makes these actions more acceptable from children than if they had been done by adults?
Specifi c examples include the games the children play in the front yard that publicly ridicule the Radleys and make spectacles of their problems, Scout’s reference to “niggers” when she discounts Jem’s references to spirits and ghosts, and Scout’s comments about Dill’s made-up stories about his father. Although these actions are cruel, the children are unaware of the harm they are doing. For example, Scout repeats the word “nigger” without realizing that it is a degrading way to refer to African-Americans. Jem says it is okay to play the games they have been playing as long as they change the character names; he does not realize that it is the actions that cause the harm even more than the names. Scout still does not understand the signifi cance of Dill’s trying to build his father up as a very important person, because she does not understand the pain he feels for not having his father around.
1. When Scout becomes suspicious of Dill’s suggestion to go for a walk, how do the boys’ respond?
According to Scout, people in Maycomb do not just go for a walk, so she expects that Jem and Dill plan to do something at the Radleys’ home. The boys become condescending toward her, suggest that she just go home, and Jem says, “I declare to the Lord you’re getting’ more like a girl every day.…” (p. 52)
2. What examples does Lee use to show that Scout does not act like a proper, Southern young lady?
Scout calls her father by his fi rst name, Atticus, rather than calling him Father or Papa. Scout wears pants all the time rather than dresses. She runs around outside and plays with two boys rather than playing with dolls, tea sets, etc. Unlike other boys and girls her age, Scout reads the newspaper and adult magazines and has been reading these with her father as long as she can remember.
3. How does Lee use light and darkness to create suspense in this chapter? Lee uses light to indicate safety and darkness to show fear. For example, Scout feels safe when the children are walking to the street light, but she notes that the back of the Radleys’ house looks less inviting in the dark. Scout feels safer when she sees Jem in the moonlight waving for her to follow him. However, during the scariest part of the evening, it is so dark that the children only see the shadow of the person who shoots at them. 4. How does Lee illustrate racism in the following passage?
Mr. Radley shot at a Negro in his collard patch.…Shot in the air. Scared him pale, though. Says if anybody sees a white nigger around, that’s the one. Says he’s got the other barrel waitin’ for the next sound he hears in that patch, an’ next time he wo not aim high, be it dog, nigger, or … (p. 55) Lee shows racism by the fact that the neighbors simply assume that the person that was in Radleys’ backyard was African-American. Since no one saw the person, there’s really no way for the neighbors to know if he was African-American or white. Then Miss Stephanie goes on to describe the person as a “white nigger”—because he must be so afraid—but no one is offended by the racial slur. Finally by saying that Mr. Radley will aim low, Miss Stephanie is referring to the African-American as being as low as a dog, both literally and fi guratively. T-12
5. Describe Scout’s internal confl ict when Jem decides to go get his pants. Scout loves Jem and does not want to see anything happen to him. Based on Nathan Radleys’ threat to kill anyone he sees in his backyard, she is afraid that he will get shot if he goes back to get his pants. However, she also does not want to get Jem in trouble by telling Atticus that Jem is going over to the Radleys’ house again.
6. What does Scout mean when she says, “It was then, I suppose, that Jem and I fi rst began to part company?” (p. 56) What could Lee’s purpose be for having Scout say this? Scout and Jem have argued about everyday things throughout the book, but this is the fi rst indication that Scout sees their relationship changing. She believes Jem should be honest with Atticus rather than risk getting hurt by returning to the Radleys’ house. Jem is too proud to tell Atticus that he had been in the Radleys’ backyard. This is a sign that Scout is beginning to see the importance of honesty and trust, whereas Jem’s pride is more important to him. Lee’s purpose could be to foreshadow a separation between the children; as they grow older, the age difference between them can become more signifi cant. Note to Teacher: The question of whether Jem and Scout actually part company later in life is never addressed again. There are moments when Scout has diffi culties understanding Jem’s actions, but no more than any typical brother-and-sister relationship. Because Lee does not include an epilogue that tells what happens to the Finch family after the night of Ewell’s attack, the reader is left with no hints rather life returns to normal, except for the reference at the very beginning of the book that Jem was able to play football.
1. What does Scout mean when she says, “I tried to climb in Jem’s skin and walk around in it….” (p. 57), and what is signifi cant about her saying this? Scout is trying to understand why Jem has been so moody after going to get his pants at the Radleys’ house. By using this phrase, Scout shows that she listened to her father when they talked about Miss Caroline. She is trying to do what her father said—try to see things from someone else’s perspective—rather than just get frustrated with Jem. 2. What makes second grade better than fi rst grade for Scout? In fi rst grade, Scout got out earlier than Jem and had to walk home past the Radleys’ house by herself. In second grade, she gets out at the same time as Jem, so they walk home together. However, Scout does not enjoy second grade any more than she did fi rst grade. T-13
3. What is ironic about Jem’s telling Scout about the pants on this specifi c day? On that same day, they fi nd gray twine in Radley’s knot hole in the tree. This is an example of situational irony because the reader suspects that the person who fi xed Jem’s pants and the person who put the twine in the tree is really the same person—Boo Radley. However, at this point, neither Jem nor Scout knows this.
4. What does the reader learn about Jem’s character in this chapter when he decides to write a letter?
The reader learns that Jem values doing what is right. He suggests that Scout and he thank the person who has been leaving gifts for them even though they do not know who the person is.
5. Why does Lee periodically have Jem and Scout fi nd something in the tree? By having Jem and Scout periodically fi nd treasures in the tree, Lee is showing the children that life is not always what it seems. For years they have had a clear impression of the Radleys as a mean family, and Boo is an evil, insane killer. However, the children are fi nding gifts that are clearly meant for them in a tree that belongs to this mean family. This is a mystery that they are fi nding diffi cult to solve. By including events involving the Radleys, Lee is also reminding the reader that this family will continue to play a part in the book. 6. What did Atticus mean when he told Scout to delete the adjective and she would have the facts? Why does Lee include this conversation in the book? Jem had told Scout that the Egyptians invented toilet paper and perpetual embalming. If Scout deletes the words “toilet” and “perpetual,” she has the truth—Egyptians invented paper and embalming. This is a humorous way for Lee to show Scout that Jem does not necessarily have all the correct answers. Note to teacher: Lee also could be using this to foreshadow events that are described during Tom Robinson’s trial. The Ewells twist a true story—Tom coming into the house to help Mayella—into a lurid tale of rape, and during his summation, Atticus asks the jury to strip away their prejudices and look at the simple facts of the case to fi nd the truth.
7. What does Lee accomplish by having Jem ask Nathan Radley about the cement in the knot hole?
Lee introduces two complex human attitudes with this situation—the possibility that Nathan Radley cements the tree to prevent his brother from contacting the children, and the fact that Atticus always tries to see the best in people. By acknowledging that he put the cement in the tree and then lying to Jem by saying that the tree is dying, Nathan is in direct confl ict with Atticus, who says the tree is healthy. However, when Jem tells Atticus that Nathan said the tree is dying, Atticus immediately supports what Radley says rather than saying he is wrong. Jem has diffi culty fi guring out this situation.
8. What does Jem’s reticence to cry in front of Scout foreshadow? Jem’s confusion and unhappiness with Nathan Radley’s obvious lie and damage to the tree are the reasons he stayed outside rather than going into the house with the others. Jem’s reticence to cry in front of Scout foreshadows the changes he will be going through as he moves into adulthood. Jem’s role model for becoming a man is his very rational father, who clearly loves his children and does everything he can to help them grow up to be good citizens; however, Atticus does not show much emotion or vulnerability in front of them. Thus, as Jem grows older, he expects that he should act more like his father, keep his emotions to himself, and begin to be a strong, kind man.
1. What is ironic about Mr. Avery’s allusion to the Rosetta Stone? How does Scout show that she does not know Mr. Avery’s purpose for using this allusion? Mr. Avery’s reference to the Rosetta Stone is an example of dramatic irony—the character’s words mean the opposite from what he intends. The Rosetta Stone is a large stone tablet discovered in Egypt that contains a decree from priests in the second century BCE. Ptolemy V, the Pharaoh during the era when the Rosetta Stone was written, was only fi ve years old when he assumed the throne. The decree says that Ptolemy V is good and has done great things for the country and reaffi rms his leadership as blessed by their gods. However, Mr. Avery says that the Rosetta Stone talks about the ramifi cations of children misbehaving, when it actually talks about the good deeds of the child, Ptolemy V. There are several levels of irony in this allusion. First, the Stone itself is an example of irony, because Ptolemy V is only fi ve years old, making it highly unlikely that he could have done very many good deeds, so the priests must have had an ulterior motive for making the decree, such as curring favor from the Pharoah. Second, Mr. Avery is never kind to Scout and Jem. On multiple occasions, he blames the children’s behavior for the unusually cold winter. When he uses the Rosetta Stone as his source of wisdom about the relationship between children’s behavior and bad weather, he is exhibiting verbal irony in one of two ways: either he misunderstands the decree on the Rosetta Stone and does believe that it talks about children misbehaving, or he knows what the decree says and is simply lying to the children. Scout shows that she does not understand Mr. Avery’s reference to the Rosetta Stone, because as the adult narrator, she admits that she never questioned his “meterological statistics: they came straight from the Rosetta Stone.” (p. 65) 2. After seeing the snowman that the children built, Atticus praises Jem in an unusual way by saying that he’s “…perpetrated a near libel.…” (p. 67) What does Atticus mean? Libel is a public statement or illustration in written or graphic form that is derogatory about or defames another person. Without having the children tell him, Atticus immediately knows that the snowman is not a very complimentary image of Mr. Avery. By saying that the snowman is libelous, Atticus is complimenting Jem on his artistic ability to create such a realistic and accurate portrait of someone.
3. What could Lee be foreshadowing with the unusual weather? Note to Teacher: The students may produce a variety of answers. You may guide them to the concept that it is extremely unusual for it to snow in southern Alabama, as mentioned by several people in the story.
If they consider the weather as a sign of upcoming events, it indicates that something will bring the town to a halt and cause diffi culty for the townspeople. 4. Explain the irony of Calpurnia’s telling Atticus that she will be warmer in her own house than in their house on the night of the snowstorm. What could Lee mean by having Calpurnia say this?
Calpurnia’s reaction is an example of situational irony. As an African-American woman during this period, Calpurnia most likely lives in a small one- or two-room house. The Finch’s house has big windows and high ceilings that help keep the house cool in hot weather; however, it is very diffi cult to heat this type of house, as Scout shows with her comment, “Calpurnia kept every fi replace in the house blazing, but we were cold.” (p. 68) It is ironic that Calpurnia’s small house, probably with only one fi replace, is easier to keep warm than the elegant house of the white families.
Lee could be referring to the relationship of African-American and white families during this period when Calpurnia says it will be warmer at her house. Calpurnia and the Finch family love each other, but there is a very defi nite line that separates her from the family. She does not join them for dinner, sit in the living room after dinner, or sit outside with them during the daytime or evening. When she spends the night at the Finches while Atticus is in Montgomery, she sleeps on a cot in the kitchen. She is kept segregated from the family. However, in her own home, she can relax, sit anywhere, and talk with her family, so it is much more comfortable for her at her own home.
5. Why does Atticus start to get angry at the children after the fi re? When Atticus sees Scout wrapped in a blanket that does not belong to them, he thinks the children disobeyed his directions to stand in front of the Radleys’ house and stay out of the way.
6. What can the reader infer from Jem’s reaction to Atticus’ request for him to get the wrapping paper out of the pantry?
Jem realizes that Atticus is going to wrap the blanket in the paper, and Jem is afraid that Atticus will ask the children to return the blanket to the Radleys. Jem does not want to go to the Radleys’ house, because he knows that Nathan does not want Boo interacting with the children. Jem is afraid Nathan will get angry that Boo gave the children the blanket. He is also concerned that Boo might say something about fi xing Jem’s pants, which will tell Nathan that Jem was the one in the garden.
7. What does the blanket symbolize?
The blanket symbolizes Boo Radley’s caring nature. Although Scout and Jem do not see Boo during the fi re, Boo watches the children and gets concerned when he sees how cold Scout is. Boo leaves his house—something the children never see him do—and takes the blanket to wrap around Scout.
8. How does Lee use Miss Maudie’s conversation with Jem and Scout the morning after the fi re to illustrate the theme of racism?
When the children fi nd out that Miss Maudie has been working in the cold weather all morning to clean her garden, Jem’s immediate response is that she should get a “colored man” (p. 74) to do the work. It does not dawn on him that an African-American man would be just as cold and get just as dirty as Miss Maudie.
1. How does Lee use Scout’s innocence as a vehicle to explain Atticus’ attitude toward African-Americans?
Because Scout is innocent about overt racial attitudes, Lee uses her as Atticus’ audience to explain his attitude toward African-Americans. Through Scout’s many questions, Atticus fi rst explains his distaste for the word “nigger” (p. 75), tells Scout about the upcoming trial of Tom Robinson, and then warns her about the potential reactions she will hear from others in town.
2. How does Lee use humor when Atticus talks to Scout about saying “nigger?” (p. 74) What is the effect of this humor?
Scout got in a fi ght at school because someone accused Atticus of “defending niggers” (p. 74), so when Atticus tells Scout not to use that word, she immediately takes this opportunity to remind Atticus that she would not hear words like this if he allowed her to quit school. Scout is only going to school because he forces her to go. Using humor in this way allows Lee to introduce a diffi cult topic in a funny way.
3. How does the allusion to the Missouri Compromise (p. 76) help explain Maycomb’s attitude toward the Civil War?
The Missouri Compromise was passed in 1820 and allowed Missouri to become a slave state in the United States, but it was to be the last state in which slavery was legal. Cousin Ike’s allusion to this compromise as the downfall of the Southern states indicates his attitude that prohibiting the expansion of slavery into the western territories is the real cause of the Civil War rather than the secession of the southern states. Cousin Ike’s attitude leads to blaming the African-Americans for all the issues that the white Southerners are still confronting. T-17
4. How might the reader’s impression of Aunt Alexandra be different if Lee had written the story in third person?
By seeing Aunt Alexandra through Scout’s eyes only, the reader gets the impression that Aunt Alexandra is a rigid, mean-spirited woman who thinks she is better than others because her family has lived on the same plantation for generations. However, the reader does not get the option to consider Aunt Alexandra’s motivations when she questions Atticus about how he is raising his children.
5. What does the reader learn about Dill in this chapter? Why does Lee mention this? According to Francis, Dill does not have a home and gets passed around among his family members, with Miss Rachel keeping him over the summer. By including this reference to Dill’s family, Lee creates sympathy for him.
Note to Teacher: You may want to remind the students of this reference once they read the chapters in which Dill runs away and Dill gets upset at the trial. 6. How does Lee create sympathy for Scout in this chapter?
Scout is not given a chance to explain why she got so upset with Francis. Even Uncle Jack, whom she adores, does not bother to ask why she hit Francis. Although Scout was defending her father against Francis’ continued claims that Atticus is a “nigger-lover” (p. 84), Scout is the one who gets in trouble, not Francis.
7. What can the reader infer about Lee’s purpose for introducing Uncle Jack in this chapter?
Uncle Jack is Lee’s vehicle to show Atticus’ attitudes toward raising his children. Through their conversation at the end of the chapter, Lee shows that Atticus is aware that his involvement in Tom Robinson’s trial will have a signifi cant impact on his children, and he realizes that the case may test his relationship with them.
8. How can the reader see Scout change during this chapter?
For the fi rst time, Scout describes how she makes several decisions based on her father’s wishes and her love for him. For example, she stops herself just before hitting Cecil Jacobs, even though Cecil claims that her father defends “niggers.” (p. 74) After she explains to Uncle Jack why she hit Francis, she asks him not to tell Atticus, because she wants to protect Atticus from the terrible things his sister says.
9. What suspense does Lee create for the reader in this chapter? The reader learns that the trial of Tom Robinson will create confl ict in Maycomb and that the Ewells accused Robinson of something, but the specifi cs of the accusation remain unclear. Note to Teacher: You may want to remind the students of their earlier impressions of the Ewell family when Burris Ewell threatened Miss Caroline on Scout’s fi rst day of school. 10. At the end of the chapter, Atticus tells Jack that Judge Taylor assigned the Robinson case to Atticus. How might this impact the reader’s impression of Atticus? When Atticus fi rst describes his involvement in this case, he gives the reader the impression that he accepted the case because of his belief that every man—even an African American— deserves the opportunity for a fair trial. However, by knowing that the judge assigned Atticus to the case, the reader may wonder whether Atticus would have taken the case voluntarily. 11. What upsets the children the most about Atticus taking on the Robinson case? What is Lee’s purpose for having the children hear the community’s attitude toward Atticus? The children do not think anything unusual about Atticus defending an African-American, but they are quite upset by the cruel comments people make about their father. Lee uses their reactions to illustrate that Atticus’ teaching has been successful; they are not horrifi ed that he would defend an African-American. They do not understand why the community is so upset. Chapter 10
1. Briefl y describe Atticus’ character.
Atticus is a man of principle. He sees the good in everyone, and he does not boast about his own achievements. He follows his beliefs regardless of the impact on himself or his family. He avoids confl ict whenever possible, and he does not believe in violence as a solution for anything. As a father, Atticus often treats his children as adults, particularly when he is explaining his beliefs and actions to them.
2. In the following quotation, what is the meaning of “tooth and nail,” and what type of literary expression is this?
“I would not fi ght publicly for Atticus, but the family was private ground. I would fi ght anyone from a third cousin upwards tooth and nail.” (p. 90) “Tooth and nail” is an idiom that means she will fi ght viciously to protect Atticus, even pulling hair, biting with her teeth, and scratching with fi ngernails. T-19
3. According to Scout’s narrative, what is the children’s impression of Atticus? The children love Atticus very much, but at times they are embarrassed, because he does not do things that their friends’ fathers do, such as hunt, fi sh, play sports with them, play poker, etc. They assume this is because he is a lot older than their friends’ fathers. 4. How does Lee occasionally offer the reader an adult perspective of Scout’s narrative? Lee uses Miss Maudie as a means to question Scout’s opinions and to show her alternative ways to see something. For example, when the children complain about their father being so old, Miss Maudie explains that his age is a benefi t to the children, because Atticus is wiser because of his years.
5. How does the children’s picture of Tim Johnson compare with Calpurnia’s description of the dog when she calls Mr. Finch and Miss Eula May? Why does Lee include this event in the story?
The children see the dog as being sick, but Calpurnia says that Tim Johnson is “mad.” (p. 93) Jem says that he’s just wandering down the street lopsided. Scout acknowledges that she always thought mad dogs “…foamed at the mouth, galloped, leaped and lunged at throats, and I thought they did it in August.” (p. 94) By showing the mad dog acting in a way that Scout does not anticipate, Lee is reinforcing the theme that appearances can often be deceiving.
6. How does Lee use Calpurnia’s actions in dealing with Tim Johnson to show the subtle discrimination prevalent in small Southern towns?
First, Calpurnia speaks to the telephone operator as if she is Eula May’s servant by calling her “Miss Eula May” and saying “ma’am” (p. 93) after each response. Second, Lee also shows the subtle discrimination when Scout explains that the Radley’s did not respond to her calls since Calpurnia did not go to the back door; during this era, African-Americans were never supposed to use the front door of white people’s homes. The subtlety is reinforced by the fact that Scout explains this without realizing the impact of her statement. Finally, after Atticus shoots the dog, he makes sure that the children do not go near the dog, because they could catch rabies from the dead carcass; however, Atticus does not show any concern about Zeebo, Calpurnia’s son, catching rabies when he picks up the dog. 7. What did the children learn about Atticus as a result of their sighting of Tim Johnson? By watching Atticus take the gun at the insistence of Heck Tate and kill the dog with one bullet, the children learn that their father was an excellent marksman as a child, and he was known as “One-Shot Finch” (p. 97) as a young man.
8. What character trait does Lee reinforce by having Atticus shoot the dog, tell the children to stay away from the dog’s body, and then return to the offi ce? How did it affect their opinion of Atticus?
Lee shows Atticus’ humble attitude toward his personal achievements. Atticus had never told the children about his marksmanship, even when Jack suggested that Atticus teach the children how to shoot their air guns. The children are surprised at his ability to shoot a gun, and they realize that they do not have to be embarrassed by their father. They are unsure why he chooses not to hunt, especially since he can shoot so well. 9. How does Lee introduce the signifi cance of the book’s title? What does it symbolize? Lee introduces the mockingbird as a symbol of innocence, which is lost when life is abused or taken. In this chapter, Atticus tells the children that it is a sin to kill a mockingbird. When Scout asks Miss Maudie why, she explains that the mockingbird is completely innocent and does nothing but sing to make music for people to enjoy. She further says that the mockingbird does not destroy gardens, crops, or corncribs.
10. What does Jem mean about Atticus being a gentleman like him? What change does this illustrate about Jem?
Jem shows that he is maturing by understanding Atticus’ silence about his ability to shoot so well. Atticus believes that violence is not something to boast about, which is what Jem has been telling Scout about the fi ghts she gets into at school. By saying that he does not care how old Atticus is, Jem shows he is beginning to understand that loving his father means loving who he is, not what he does.
1. What is Lee’s purpose for introducing Mrs. Dubose?
Lee uses Mrs. Dubose to counter Jem’s impression of his father’s bravery because he shot the mad dog. Lee also reinforces the idea that appearances are not what they seem. To the children, Mrs. Dubose appears to be mean and angry, but they do not know what makes her act this way.
2. Why does Jem destroy Mrs. Dubose’ camellia bushes?
Jem listens to her insults directed at him and Scout, but when Mrs. Dubose claims that their father is “…in the courthouse lawing for niggers…” (p. 101), Jem gets really angry. On the way back from town, Mrs. Dubose is not on her front porch, so Jem takes Scout’s new baton and hits every bush until all the blooms fall off.
3. How does the reader benefi t from Scout telling the story about Mrs. Dubose as an adult looking back at her childhood?
The reader learns Scout’s view of Jem’s actions and motivations from her perspective as a child and as an adult. As a child, she simply thinks Jem has gone crazy, and she is afraid that Mrs. Dubose or her maid will shoot him. However, because Scout is an adult looking back at the incident, the reader gets a glimpse of her understanding that Jem has been holding in all the anger he felt as people degraded their father. She acknowledges that she does not know why that particular incident was the one that caused Jem to lose his temper. 4. What is the purpose of Scout’s allusion to Dixie Howell? (p. 103) Dixie Howell was a very popular football player at the University of Alabama in the 1930s. While they wait for Atticus to come home, Scout compares Jem to Dixie Howell in an attempt to make him feel better about what he did to Mrs. Dubose’s camellias. 5. What humor does Lee use to lighten Atticus’ discussion with Jem about reading to Mrs. Dubose?
Jem spent so much time the previous summer trying to see Boo Radley and inside his house, that Atticus does not fall for Jem’s complaints about Mrs. Dubose house being “…all dark and creepy…[with] shadows and things on the ceiling.…” (p. 105) The children viewed Boo as scary and creepy, and frequently they said that the house must be dark and sinister. Atticus tells Jem simply to pretend he is reading inside Boo’s house. 6. What does Lee show about Atticus’ character when Scout asks him the meaning of “nigger-lover?” (p. 108)
Lee shows Atticus’ love for his children in two ways. First, Atticus’ immediate response is to ask Scout if someone called her a “nigger-lover.” After he is assured that the reference was to him and not her, Atticus then takes the time to teach her what the term means. Lee also shows Atticus’ commitment to seeing everyone as equal when he says that he tries to be a “nigger-lover” every day. He takes the time to explain to Scout how people that use such terms are really refl ecting poorly on themselves rather than the person to whom they are speaking.
7. How does Atticus use Mrs. Dubose’s death to teach the children about courage? The children had thought Atticus was so courageous because he was able to shoot the mad dog with one bullet. However, Atticus’ defi nition of courage is “…when you know you are licked before you begin but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what.” (p. 112) He wants the children to see Mrs. Dubose as an example of courage, because she fi ghts to get free of her morphine addiction before she dies.
8. How does Atticus’ defi nition of courage foreshadow upcoming events? Atticus has already said that he does not expect to win Tom Robinson’s case simply because it is a matter of an African-American’s word against a white man’s word in a case of rape. Atticus will see this trial through to the end, even though he knows he will not win. Part One Summary
1. Briefl y describe Scout’s character development in this part of the book. Scout is an intelligent young tomboy who speaks like an adult. She is very forthright and says what is on her mind, which often gets her into trouble. Because she lives in a small Southern town, she is very protected and innocent. As the story progresses, she becomes curious about other people’s viewpoints, but she does not lose her innocence. At the end of Part One, Scout still sees people mostly as either good or bad, kind or mean; however, she is beginning to question the validity of this attitude.
2. How does Scout’s role as narrator affect the reader’s understanding of the story? As the narrator, Scout shows the reader the people in Maycomb through the innocent eyes of a child. For example, the reader gets a very clear picture of Miss Maudie as a kind, open-minded woman, and Miss Stephanie as a crude gossip. Occasionally she does add commentary from her adult perspective, such as with Jem’s actions at Mrs. Dubose’s house. 3. What is Lee’s purpose for including Boo Radley in the story since the reader has not seen him?
Lee introduces Boo to create mystery and to symbolize fear of the unknown for the children and many of the townspeople as well. The stories of his activities and his family are well known, and the fact that no one has seen him intensifi es the fear and speculation. The children almost get shot trying to see in the windows of his house, and the stories that Jem tells about Boo eating live animals emphasize the fear. The children begin to test their fears and have several encounters with Boo through the gifts in the tree and the blanket at the fi re, but they do not see him. The reader does not know for sure whether the children realize that Boo is the one leaving the gifts in the tree. Boo provides a way for Lee to have the children begin to question the stories they have heard about him, albeit not on a conscious level. T-23
4. How does Lee use the setting of Maycomb, Alabama to emphasize the themes of the story?
Maycomb is a typical small town in the rural South that experienced severe poverty at all social levels. For example, even though the Finches are considered part of the upper class, with a nice house, African-American housekeeper, and a car, they have very little money. However, they are much better off than the Cunningham family, which owns farmland, has no money, and must pull their children from school to work the farm. Below families like the Cunninghams are the “white trash” like the Ewells, with the African-American community at the very bottom. In this small town, Lee is able to illustrate the prejudice and hatred of those at the top looking down at the people below them. Through this strict social structure, Lee questions the segregation of African-Americans and whites as an accepted system, even by open-minded people like Atticus Finch.
5. How has Jem’s attitude about courage changed from the beginning of the story? At the beginning of the story, Jem views courage simply as accepting a dare from his friend Dill, and he runs into the Radley’s yard to touch their house and runs out. By the end of Part One, Jem begins to realize that courage means much more than completing physical challenges. He sees his father have the courage to stand alone and shoot a mad dog, but he also recognizes that his father’s true example of courage is his choice to give up hunting rather than taking unfair advantage of his natural talent and shoot weaker creatures. At the end of chapter 11, Jem struggles with his father’s statement about Mrs. Dubose being the real example of courage.
6. Is Atticus an example of a static or dynamic character? Explain your answer. Atticus is an example of a static character. He does not change in his attitudes toward his children or other people. When the children have questions, he treats them respectfully and answers them as if he is talking to an adult. He is consistent in the way that he teaches his children to look at other people; he tells them to try to see what it would feel like to be that person and what their lives would be like. He always tries to see the best in people. 7. What is the signifi cance of Boo Radley’s nickname?
Like Scout’s nickname, Arthur’s nickname has signifi cance. The children are scared by the stories they have heard about him, yet they have never seen him. At one point, Scout refers to him as a phantom, and as such, they expect him to jump out from a hiding place and scare them by saying, “boo!”
1. Why is Scout so surprised when Jem says, “It’s time you started bein’ a girl and acting right…?” (p. 115) What is Lee’s purpose for having Jem say this? Scout has played with Jem as if she is a boy, and Jem has always accepted her as an equal in this respect. So for him to say that the right way for her to act is to be a girl is the same as telling her he does not like her as she is anymore. Lee shows that Jem is becoming more aware of society’s expectations of acceptable behavior for a girl. 2. What literary devices is Lee using when she has Scout describe Atticus’ trip to Montgomery by saying, “…The Governor was eager to scrape a few barnacles off the ship of state; there were sit-down strikes in Birmingham; bread lines in the cities grew longer, people in the country grew poorer…?” (p. 118) Why are these statements signifi cant?
Scraping “a few barnacles off the ship of state” is fi gurative language in the form of an idiom. Scraping barnacles is a reference to the shellfi sh that adhere themselves to the underside of boats; to keep a boat running through water smoothly, barnacles must be scraped off the bottom of the boat. The “ship of state” is the state government, and by scraping the barnacles off this ship, the governor wants to improve the government’s operations by simplifying the tax codes.
The other literary device is the allusion to the sit-down strikes and bread lines that were prevalent during the Depression. A sit-down strike is a strike in which the workers literally sit down in their workplace and refuse to work until their demands are met. Bread lines are a reference to the long lines that occurred outside places that gave away food to people who did not have any.
These statements are signifi cant because this is the fi rst time that Scout has made any reference to events happening outside of Maycomb. In fact, she even says that these events are remote from her and Jem’s world, implying that they are of little signifi cance to her. It shows how insular her world is and how naïve she is about the effects of the Depression. 3. Why is Calpurnia so concerned about the children’s appearance when she takes them to First Purchase?
Calpurnia wants to make sure that the children are perfectly dressed so that none of her friends can say anything negative about her or the children. She does not want the church members to accuse her of doing anything less than the best for Jem and Scout. T-25
4. Why does Lee introduce the character of Lula into the story? Lee introduces Lula to illustrate that racism is an individual attitude that may or may not be upheld by a community. Lula wants to keep First Purchase segregated and not welcome the white children into the church. However, Lula is in the minority in this congregation. In the white community, there are also people who do not welcome African-Americans into their churches, but this attitude is supported by almost everyone except people like Atticus. . 5. Why does Calpurnia speak differently at First Purchase than she does with the children in their home? What is Lee illustrating with this switch and Scout’s questions about it? Calpurnia speaks what Scout calls “nigger-talk” (p. 125) with the people at First Purchase; however, when she is speaking with the children in their home, she speaks proper English. By having Calpurnia switch back and forth between slang and proper English, Lee is illustrating Calpurnia’s role as one of the few African-Americans in Maycomb who can successfully move between the white community and the African-American community and be accepted by both. By having Scout use the phrases “nigger-talk” and “…talk that way when you know better…” (p. 126), Lee is illustrating the unconscious bias of most white Southerners at that time—Scout does not even realize that her assumption that African-Americans speak like they do because they do not know any better shows her prejudice. She does realize, however, that Calpurnia leads a divided life, showing her intelligence and education when she is with the children, but not making herself look better than the other members of her community when she is at home.
6. How does Lee use the children’s experience at First Purchase to show the similarities and differences between the African-American and the white religious communities? Lee begins the children’s experience with Calpurnia saying to Lula that both the First Purchase and the white congregation worship the same God. Scout sees this is true, because Reverend Sykes’ announcements, intentions, and sermon are similar to the ones she hears in her own church. However, the disparity in the affl uence of the two communities is very apparent in the church. First Purchase does not have an interior ceiling, is not painted, has pine planks for pews, and uses kerosene lamps. They also do not have hymnbooks, which Lee uses as a further example of the African-American’s hardships. According to Calpurnia, having hymnbooks would do no good, because the majority of the members of the congregation cannot read.
7. What is the signifi cance of Calpurnia’s description of learning to read? How does this affect Scout?
This is yet another example of the discrimination against African-Americans at that time. Calpurnia is one of only four people in her entire congregation that knows how to read. She was fortunate to have a white woman teach her how to read, because there were no schools for African-Americans when she was growing up. She also describes how she taught her son, Zeebo how to read, because there still were no schools he could attend when he was a child. Hearing this description makes Scout wonder why she had never thought about how Calpurnia learned to read and write. Through this dialogue, Lee shows that Scout is beginning to question the status quo of Maycomb, wondering why no one has sought to change this inequity.
1. Why did Aunt Alexandra come to stay with Atticus, Jem, and Scout? What does her arrival tell the reader and the people of Maycomb about her relationship with Atticus? Aunt Alexandra tells Jem and Scout that she has come because they are at the age when they can use a feminine infl uence, particularly Scout. By coming at this particular time, she is publicly showing support for her brother’s decision to defend Tom Robinson. Although she tells the family that Atticus is disgracing the family by defending an African-American against rape charges, she will not admit this outside the family. In public, she supports her family members regardless of what they have done or will do. 2. What does Atticus mean when he says, “I cannot stay here with you all day, and this summer’s going to be a hot one?” (p. 128)
Although the temperature will be hot, as summer always is in Alabama, Atticus is referring to the town’s reaction to the upcoming trial of Tom Robinson. Atticus does not want to leave his children alone with Calpurnia in the weeks leading up to the trial, because he fears that something may happen to them. Atticus cannot put Calpurnia in the position of having to protect his children from attacks by white people, because as an African-American, Calpurnia would be put on trial just like Tom Robinson.
3. How does Lee use humor to show that she does not approve of using family heritage as a way to judge people? How is this signifi cant to the character of Aunt Alexandra? When Scout is describing Aunt Alexandra’s explanations of different family streaks, such as the morbid streak in the Merriweather family, the giddiness streak in the Penfi eld family women, and the various drinking streaks, gambling streaks, or mean streaks, Atticus is the one who puts Aunt Alexandra in her place by referring to the Finch Incestuous Streak. Aunt Alexandra does not realize that Atticus is teasing her; rather, she responds seriously by saying that this is why they all have small hands and small feet. This conversation is signifi cant because it emphasizes just how serious Aunt Alexandra is about her pride in being a Finch.
4. What type of literary device is the following quotation? What does Scout mean? “Aunt Alexandra fi tted into the world of Maycomb like a hand into a glove, but never into the world of Jem and me.” (pp. 131 –132)
The phrase “…like a hand into a glove…” is a simile that Scout uses to say that Maycomb society has accepted Aunt Alexandra very quickly and completely. However, she goes on to point out that Aunt Alexandra and the two children do not get along very well. 5. Briefl y describe the impact of Scout’s role as narrator as she describes Aunt Alexandra’s explanation of cousin Lily Brook’s book about Joshua S. St. Clair. Scout’s dislike of Aunt Alexandra is obvious to the reader. Scout makes Aunt Alexandra seem like a ridiculous, stuck-up snob who wants to promote the gentility of the Finch family without seeing the human fl aws, such as the incident that Jem mentions about cousin Joshua. 6. Why did the children feel so isolated and upset when Atticus asked them to listen to Aunt Alexandra’s explanations of the signifi cance of being a Finch. When Atticus says that he wants them to learn about the Finch family, the children are afraid that Aunt Alexandra has somehow changed their father. This is the fi rst time Atticus has ever implied that they are better than other people because of where they came from, and this is completely foreign to them. They fear that they have lost the father they know, and that they will be required to act differently in the future.
7. What does Scout mean when she says, “I know now what he was trying to do, but Atticus was only a man. It takes a woman to do that kind of work.” (p. 134) This is an example of Scout speaking from an adult’s perspective, looking back at an event in her life that she did not understand at the time. She now understands that Atticus was trying to teach his children respect and pride for family, even if he did not agree with how Aunt Alexandra fl aunted their family history.
1. Describe how Atticus’ and Aunt Alexandra’s reactions to Scout and Jem visiting Calpurnia’s church refl ect their attitudes toward African-Americans. Atticus is amused by the story and sees no harm in their visiting First Prospect. This shows that he sees Calpurnia as an individual who loves his children and cares about their wellbeing. Aunt Alexandra is horrifi ed, denies Scout permission to visit Calpurnia, and uses this story as justifi cation for getting rid of Calpurnia because of her infl uence on the children as they get older. This exemplifi es Alexandra’s attitude that African-Americans are to be kept at a distance, not to be trusted, and defi nitely beneath her socially. T-28
2. What does Scout mean when she says, “I felt the starched walls of a pink penitentiary closing in on me, and for the second time in my life I thought of running away. Immediately.” (p. 136) How is this statement ironic?
Scout’s reference to the “pink penitentiary” means that she fears Aunt Alexandra will require her to wear dresses all the time and only play with toys that are suitable for little girls. The statement is ironic because she talks about running away, but at that point in the story, she does not yet know that Dill has run away and is hiding under her bed. 3. Give two examples of Jem’s increasing maturity, and explain each example along with Scout’s response.
First example: Without being specifi cally told, Jem knows that Atticus is under a lot of stress, and he tells Scout that she should try not to cause him more stress by antagonizing Aunt Alexandra. Scout responds as a typical child would and accuses Jem of ordering her around. She denies Jem’s assertion that Atticus is under stress, because she does not see what Jem does. Second example: As soon as Jem realizes that Dill has run away from home, he calls Atticus. Both Scout and Dill see this as a betrayal of their childhood pact, but Jem understands the situation from an adult’s perspective.
4. Why did Dill really run away? How does Lee use Dill’s explanation to create sympathy for him?
His mother has remarried, and Dill feels that his step-father and mother do not want to be bothered with him. Dill fi rst makes up a ridiculous story about his adventures on the train, and it is not until they are going to sleep, that Dill shares with Scout just how lonely and unloved he feels. His most poignant statement is his assumption that the only reason Boo Radley never ran away was that he had no place to go.
5. If Dill were the narrator, how might he respond to Aunt Alexandra’s attention? How does his relationship with his mother and step-father affect his possible response to Aunt Alexandra?
Dill has never had a parent that pays a lot of attention to him, so the reader can assume that he would enjoy the attention Aunt Alexandra gives to Scout, even if she is correcting his actions and speech.
6. What can the reader infer from Scout’s question about Boo Radley running away and Dill’s response?
The reader can infer that Scout is beginning to understand that Boo’s relationship with his family is not a good, loving relationship, because she is comparing Dill’s story about being ignored by his mother and step-father with what she has heard about Boo’s relationship with his parents. Based on Dill’s response, the reader can infer that Dill chose to run away because he knows that he will be safe once he reaches the Finch’s house. Dill’s decision to come to their house indicates that he understands the loving relationship between Atticus and his children. T-29
1. Why does Jem call out to Atticus that the phone was ringing? What is Lee’s purpose in adding this to the story?
Jem knows that the tension in the town is increasing as the trial draws closer, and he is afraid that the men who come to see Atticus are there to harm him. Jem is trying to help Atticus to get safely back inside the house by letting the men know that Atticus needs to answer the phone. By having Atticus simply tell Jem to answer the phone, Lee uses humor to show the reader that these men are not going to harm Atticus and that Jem’s fears are unwarranted. Through Jem’s questions about the group of men, Lee is able to share Atticus’ opinion about mobs and the Ku Klux Klan.
2. How does Lee create suspense leading up to the confrontation at the jailhouse? The reader learns about several events before the confrontation at the jail, but because Lee has a child telling the story, the reader does not get enough of an explanation of each event to know its signifi cance and relationship to the other events. For example, Lee opens the chapter with the gang of men visiting Atticus at home, but the reader does not know why they come or what they discuss. Then Scout notes that Atticus and Aunt Alexandra have been arguing again, and Jem tells Scout he is worried that someone is going to hurt Atticus but does not explain why. Lee then has Scout describe the men talking with Atticus between Sunday School and church, noting that Heck Tate and Mr. Underwood were both there, neither of which attend church. Although Atticus tells Scout that they have moved Tom Robinson to the city jail, he does not explain the reason for all the meetings and discussions. All of these events heighten the suspense in the chapter because of their lack of connections. 3. What is the signifi cance of Lee’s use of light and dark in this chapter? Symbolically, the dark times are the ones when the children do not understand what is happening, and it is only when they move into the light that Atticus strung at the jailhouse door that they realize the seriousness of the situation. When the gang of men visit Atticus at home, they remain outside in the dark, softly talking to Atticus out of the range of the children’s ability to hear them, rather than coming into the house and talking in a lit room. To try to see what was happening, Jem turns out the lights inside the house. The next night Atticus gathers a long electrical cord with a light on the end and leaves the house without telling anyone where he is going. When the children decide to follow, Scout comments that it is dark outside, because there is no moon. The children notice that the jail, which does not have an outdoor light, has a bright light hanging over the door, and Atticus is sitting in front of the door. The children hide in the dark when the mob arrives, and they do not realize this is a different group until Scout runs into the middle of the mob. T-30
4. What does the man mean when he says that they “…Called ‘em off on a snipe hunt…?” (p. 151) How does this affect Atticus?
A snipe hunt is a practical joke played on someone in which the person is taken to a forest to hunt for an imaginary bird called a snipe. While the person is hunting for the bird, the rest of the group leaves the person in the forest and goes home. Atticus does not have a gun, but he assumes that Heck Tate, the sheriff, is in the jailhouse with his gun if he is needed. However, by telling Atticus that Heck is on a snipe hunt, the gang of men is letting Atticus know that they have gotten Heck out of the way for the evening. Atticus does not outwardly show concern, because he is confi dent he can prevent any serious violence. His concern becomes apparent only when the children arrive.
5. What is Lee’s purpose for having Scout jump into the circle of men unexpectedly at the jail?
Through the innocence of a child, Lee is able to show the sinister nature of the gang. Scout thinks Atticus will be glad to see her and that she will know the men, like she did the previous night.
6. What does Jem’s refusal to obey Atticus indicate with respect to Jem’s character? Jem understands what Aunt Alexandra has been trying to teach them about the importance of standing by your family. Jem will not abandon his father when he is in danger, regardless of how many times Atticus tells him to take Scout and Dill home. 7. What aspects of Scout’s character does Lee draw on to disperse the lynch mob outside the jail?
Lee draws on Scout’s innocence and friendliness to disperse the mob. Scout is not aware of the intention of the mob when she starts talking to Walter Cunningham. She is simply trying to overcome the embarrassment she feels for erroneously thinking that she knows all the men in the group.
8. By talking to Walter Cunningham as she did, what lesson does Scout show Atticus that she has learned?
When previously explaining mob mentality to Scout, Atticus had told her that people do things in a mob that they will not do as individuals. By identifying Walter Cunningham as the father of her classmate and reminding him of the help that Atticus gave him, Scout pulls Cunningham out of the mob and makes him realize that he is ashamed of what he is doing. 9. What is surprising about Mr. Underwood’s comments from the dark? Mr. Underwood has been very outspoken about hating African-Americans, so it is surprising that he would be willing to defend Atticus and Tom Robinson from a lynch mob. By doing so, Mr. Underwood shows that he believes equal justice is more important than race. T-31
1. Explain the signifi cance of Scout comparing Atticus in front of the jail to Atticus, “… standing in the middle of an empty waiting street, pushing up his glasses.” (p. 156) The reference to Atticus in the empty waiting street is when Atticus was getting ready to kill the mad dog. Everyone was locked in their houses waiting to see what happened, but Atticus was alone with the mad dog. With this comparison, Lee shows that Atticus is willing to stand alone against the mad mob of angry men, and rather than protecting the whole neighborhood from a mad dog, Atticus is protecting one African-American man. The signifi cance is that Atticus is consistent in his beliefs. He is willing to stand up and protect what he thinks deserves protection, regardless of the potential harm to himself, whether it is an attack by a mad dog or an angry mob.
2. Why does Aunt Alexandra get upset with Atticus for talking about Mr. Underwood in front of Calpurnia? What does this show about Aunt Alexandra’s character? Aunt Alexandra does not think it is proper to talk about people hating African-Americans in front of Calpurnia, because she is afraid that Calpurnia will repeat the conversation to other African-Americans and stir them up. Aunt Alexandra’s concern about Atticus’ comments shows that she does not trust any African-American, even one who has worked for the family since she was a child.
3. What does Atticus’ comment that Calpurnia “…knows what she means to this family” (p. 157) show about his own prejudices?
Atticus does not realize that his response, while accurate, does not tell the whole story. Atticus will employ Calpurnia until she no longer wants to work, but she is not really a member of the family like he previously said. She knows that there is a separating line between being a member of the family and being the housekeeper, and that line is based on race.
4. Why does Lee have Aunt Alexandra confi ne the children to the yard? By having the children in the front yard, Lee provides the setting for Jem to describe all the people going into town. This provides the reader with a review of the different elements of society represented in Maycomb.
5. Briefl y describe the atmosphere in town the day of the trial. What clues does Lee give the reader about the atmosphere?
All the people are dressed up and come to town as if they are going to a party or a festival. The women are wearing gloves and hats, and the men are dressed in Sunday clothes. Examples of Lee’s clues include:
Scout says, “It was like Saturday. People from the south end of the county passed our house in a leisurely but steady stream.” (p. 158)
Miss Maudie says, “Look at all those folks, it’s like a Roman carnival.” (p. 159) Miss Stephanie says, “Look at all those folks—you’d think William Jennings Bryant was speakin’.” (p. 160)
Scout says, “It was a gala occasion. There was no room at the public hitching rail for another animal, mules and wagons were parked under every available tree. The courthouse square was covered with picnic parties sitting on newspapers…” (p. 160) 6. What does Lee illustrate with Jem’s explanation of Mr. Dolphus Raymond’s behavior? Lee is using Raymond as another example of how appearances can be deceptive. When Jem tells Dill that Raymond has an African-American wife and “mixed chillun” (p. 161), Dill immediately says that Mr. Raymond does not look like trash. Dill does not expect a well-todo white man to choose to sit with the African-Americans when he has so many white people he could join, and Dill cannot understand why a man of his wealth and heritage would consciously choose an African-American woman as his wife. Jem excuses Mr. Raymond’s selection of a wife by telling Dill about his on-going drinking problem due to the loss of his fi rst wife. Lee further reinforces this concept of deceptive appearances when Jem explains what a mixed child is. Dill does not see any obvious physical differences in the child Jem identifi es as mixed and one that is African-American.
1. Describe the impression that Tate gives the reader through his recount of the event and Atticus’ cross-examination. What conclusion can the reader draw about Lee’s purpose for Tate’s testimony?
Tate is friendly toward Atticus and seems like he is trying to be helpful, but it is apparent to the reader that Tate never questioned the validity of the Ewells’ accusation. He did not bother to have a doctor come tend Mayella’s wounds or verify that she was raped. He never mentions questioning Tom about his whereabouts that evening or his version of what happened. He gives the impression that he believed the Ewells and arrested the African-American, although he never says it directly. Lee is beginning to show the discrimination that will become evident in the trial of an African-American man accused of raping a white woman in the South. T-33
2. What is the signifi cance of Bob Ewell’s legal name?
Bob’s given name is Robert E. Lee Ewell, having been named after the General of the Confederate Army. Since one of the causes of the Civil War was the practice of slavery in the southern states, General Lee is associated with the pro-slavery/anti-African-American viewpoint. Having Bob Ewell named after Lee reminds the reader of the war that was started because of the relationship between African-Americans and white people. 3. What can the reader infer from Atticus’ emphasis on the location of Mayella’s injuries and Bob Ewell’s dominant hand?
The reader can infer that Atticus suspects Ewell is the person that beat Mayella. The reader can also infer that there is something that would prevent Tom from causing the injuries that both Tate and Ewell describe.
4. What literary device does Lee use in referring to Bob Ewell as “…a little bantam cock of a man…strutted to the stand…?” (pp. 169–170)
This is a metaphor in which Lee compares Ewell to a bantam rooster strutting around the barnyard to illustrate Ewell’s confi dence and his pride in being involved in the trial. 5. What is the irony about Bob Ewell’s response to Mr. Gilmer’s question about being ambidextrous?
Mr. Gilmer understands the signifi cance of Atticus’ questions about Ewell being right- or left-handed, but Mr. Ewell does not. When Mr. Gilmer asks if Ewell is ambidextrous, Ewell responds, “I most positively am not, I can use one hand good as the other. One hand good as the other.…” (p. 178) His answer says that he is ambidextrous, which is an example of verbal irony, because of the emphasis he uses to deny being ambidextrous. 6. Compare Jem’s and Scout’s attitudes at the end of this chapter regarding the progress of the trial. What do their attitudes tell the reader about their understanding of race relations in Maycomb?
Jem is convinced that Atticus has proven Robinson’s innocence by showing that Ewell is left-handed. However, Scout is more skeptical as demonstrated by her statement, “I thought Jem was counting his chickens.” (p. 178) The reader can infer that Scout has a better understanding than Jem of what it will take for an all-white jury to fi nd an African-American man innocent of rape. Jem focuses only on the facts of the trial, whereas Scout accepts the reality of the prejudice involved.
7. What is Lee’s purpose in having the Ewell family accuse Tom Robinson of rape? Lee uses the Ewell family to emphasize the racial implications of Tom Robinson’s trial. Based on Lee’s portrayal of Burris Ewell in earlier chapters as well as Atticus’ discussions with Scout about the Ewell family, the reader knows that no one in the town thinks highly of the Ewells. They live in a run-down house near the town dump, and Bob Ewell uses the public assistance money he receives to buy liquor for himself rather than food for his children. The white people of Maycomb would never believe any accusation that Bob Ewell made against another white person; however, because Tom is African-American, they side with Bob rather than allow an African-American disgrace a white man by winning a lawsuit against him. Chapter 18
1. How does Scout’s initial description of Mayella Ewell show Scout’s character growth? Scout notes that initially Mayella seems to be fragile, but as soon as she sits in the witness box, Mayella shows her true self—a strong girl used to physical labor. This observation shows that Scout is maturing, because she is beginning to see that initial impressions can be deceiving.
2. Identify several elements that Lee uses to create suspense during Mayella’s testimony. Mayella’s statements and expressions during Atticus’ cross-examination show that she does not trust him, even though he appears to be a nice, gentle man. For example, she tells the judge she does not want Atticus making fun of her like he did her father. Scout describes Mayella’s attitude toward Atticus as “…looking at him furiously.” (p. 181) Scout implies that Mayella seems to be hiding something. For example, in referring to Mayella’s increasing confi dence, Scout says, “…there was something stealthy about hers, like a steady-eyed cat with a twitchy tail.” (p. 181) When Atticus asks if the day of the alleged rape is the fi rst time Mayella asked Tom to come inside the fence, Scout notices that Mayella jumps slightly and does not answer at fi rst.
Atticus’ long list of questions about Mayella’s everyday life draws out the suspense, because the questions do not seem to relate to the trial.
Scout notices that Atticus’ demeanor changes when he begins asking Mayella about the alleged rape. He had stated that he was getting old and might ask her some questions that she had already answered, but as soon as he asks Mayella about Tom hitting her, Scout says, “Atticus’ memory had suddenly become accurate.” (p. 185) Atticus’ questions about loving her father make Mayella extremely uncomfortable. T-35
3. How does Lee create sympathy for Mayella?
Through Atticus’ litany of questions about her life, the reader learns that Mayella has a very diffi cult and lonely life, and she does not realize how bad it is. She claims to be able to read and write as well as her father, which the on-lookers know is not very well. When Atticus calls her Miss Mayella and refers to her as ma’am, Mayella sees this as mocking her rather than as a gentlemanly sign of respect. She is surprised and then angry when Atticus asks about friends, but in fact she does not have any.
4. How does Lee create confl ict for the reader with respect to seeing Mayella as a sympathetic character by the end of her testimony?
Mayella loses the reader’s sympathy because she continues to accuse Tom Robinson of raping her, and she threatens the jury with being cowards if they do not believe her. However, looking at her background, the reader can understand that she is also afraid that her father will get angry at her if she tells the truth.
5. How does Scout’s description of Atticus after cross-examining Mayella illustrate his consistent character?
Scout says that as Atticus sat down, he looked like he had a stomach ache and that it is clear to her Atticus does not like what he did to Mayella. Atticus’ reaction is consistent with his attitude toward seeing the best in people and trying to understand the reasons behind their actions. Atticus believes that Mayella is an unfortunate person who told those lies because her father forced her to do so, and Atticus wants to believe that she would not have done this on her own.
6. Why does Atticus ask Tom to stand up?
Atticus has Tom stand up to show the jury that his left arm is injured, as explained by Reverend Sykes. Because Tom only has one good arm, Atticus wants the jury to see that it is impossible for Tom to grab Mayella, strangle her, hold her down, and rape her. Chapter 19
1. Why does Lee begin this chapter with a description of Tom trying to take the oath in the trial?
The diffi culty that Tom has keeping his left hand on the Bible creates sympathy for him. It also emphasizes how useless his left arm would be if he were trying to hold Mayella down while she fought against him.
2. Why does Atticus ask Tom about previously being in trouble with the law? Atticus wants the jury know that Tom is honest and is not hiding anything from them. By having his own lawyer ask about his trouble rather than waiting for the prosecuting attorney to ask, Tom is able to explain what happened and the penalty he served because of it. 3. What does Lee illustrate with Scout’s pity for Mayella? Scout has matured enough to put herself in other people’s positions and see what their lives are like—something that Atticus fi rst explained to her when they talked about Miss Caroline. Scout realizes that Mayella must be lonelier than Boo Radley, because neither white people nor African-Americans will have anything to do with her. Although Scout has developed the ability to see life through other people’s eyes, she is still confused by Mayella’s anger at Tom Robinson, the only person who has been nice to her. This shows that Scout does not fully understand the full extent of the racist attitudes of white Maycomb people. 4. What is the signifi cance of Tom Robinson admitting that he felt sorry for Mayella? How does Mr. Gilmer further emphasize Tom’s error?
In this time period, no white person would believe that an African-American could pity any white person, so when Tom admits he felt sorry for Mayella, it diminishes the credibility of everything that Tom says. The prosecutor further emphasizes Tom’s error by continually asking Tom if he is saying Mayella was lying during her testimony. 5. What does Tom mean when he says, “…it were not safe for any nigger to be in a—fi x like that?” (p. 198)
Tom is smart enough to know that no one would believe him if he defended himself by fi ghting off Mayella’s advances or if he hurts her father if Bob attacks him; yet Tom knows that by running away, he looks guilty of something.
6. What is the implication of Mr. Gilmer calling Tom a boy? Why is Dill the one who gets upset by these references?
Mr. Gilmer is being demeaning; by referring to Tom as a boy, he insinuates that Tom is not a man who deserves equal treatment under the law. Dill understands this type of demeaning treatment, because his mother and step-father talked to him the same way. Note to Teacher: You may want to remind the students of Dill’s comments when he explains why he ran away from home.
7. What does Scout mean when she says that Atticus is, “…the same in the courtroom as he is on the public streets?” (p. 199)
Atticus is consistent in how he treats people regardless of who they are, where they are, or what they are doing.
8. Why does Lee have Link Deas interrupt the trial?
Lee uses Link Deas to show the reader that there is at least one white man other than Atticus who believes that Tom Robinson is innocent. By having Link attest to Robinson’s excellent job performance, Lee counters the white people’s stereotypical image of the lazy, good-for-nothing African-American.
9. What is the symbolism of the courthouse lights in the following passage? “This time Judge Taylor’s gavel came down with a bang, and as it did the overhead lights went on in the courtroom.” (p. 194)
Even though it is not yet dark outside, the lights come on the moment Tom says Mayella hugged him. The lights symbolize the truth of what happened in the Ewells’ house that day. Until Tom explains this, the reader is unsure why the Ewells have accused him of attacking Mayella. Once Tom describes Mayella’s advances toward him, the reader realizes the signifi cance of the truth—a white girl approached an African-American man for love and affection.
10. What does Dolphus Raymond’s comment foreshadow at the end of this chapter? Raymond’s comment indicates that he has been following Scout and Dill’s conversation, and he agrees with Dill’s condemnation of the way most white people belittle African-Americans. Evidently he is not drunk, or he could not understand what they are discussing. This foreshadows a revelation about Raymond’s relationship with his African-American wife and the theme that appearances can be deceiving.
1. What is Lee’s purpose for inserting Raymond’s conversation with Scout and Dill in the middle of the drama of the trial?
Lee uses Raymond to explain Dill’s distress about the way white people talk to African- Americans. Raymond refl ects on the fact that children are sensitive to comments that hurt other people; but by the time Dill gets older, he may notice the harm. If he is like most adults, however, Dill will not stand up for the minority. Through this conversation, Lee shows that all the white citizens of Maycomb are to blame for the injustice against Tom Robinson, not just the jury that delivers the verdict. Because they do not stand up for Tom, they allow the Ewells to get away with their false accusations. This attitude exemplifi es the mob mentality that Atticus previously described to his children.
2. Why does Raymond constantly carry a brown bag with Coca-Cola in it? What does the bag represent?
Raymond’s bag actually contains a bottle of Coca-Cola, but the citizens of Maycomb assume that it is alcohol. The bag represents Raymond’s way of misrepresenting himself as a drunk, thereby getting the freedom to live the life he wants to live without having people ostracize him for living with an African-American wife.
3. Why did Atticus remove his coat, loosen his tie, and unbutton his vest? Atticus wants to reduce the formality of the courtroom setting and talk to the jury like he is just another one of them. By eliminating his formal attire, Atticus hopes that the jurymen can look at him as a simple man and relate to what he is saying more easily. 4. What type of literary device does Atticus use when he says, “This case is as simple as black and white?” (p. 203) How is Atticus’s choice of words ironic? This is an example of an idiom in which Atticus is referring to the simplicity of the case—the jury only has to choose which version to believe. This is an example of verbal irony, because Tom Robinson is an African-American man accused of raping a white woman, so the case is simply about black and white statements.
5. What was Lee’s purpose in having Atticus’ identify the court as the only place that all men are equal?
Lee is reinforcing the reality that the men on the jury could never fi nd Tom innocent if they are supposed to believe that Tom is the equal of Mayella or Bob Ewell. Lee has Atticus acknowledge that all people are prejudice as part of their normal lives, so he does not ask the jury to deny that. He simply asks them to honor their role in the democratic process by basing their decision on the facts of the case, not the race of the parties involved. This monologue gives Lee the opportunity for Atticus to restate his beliefs that justice is more important than any personal beliefs.
1. What is the signifi cance of Lee’s portrayal of Calpurnia as she comes into the courtroom and as she walks home with the children?
Lee reminds the reader that Calpurnia frequently walks the dividing line between the affl uent, white neighborhood and the African-American community. When talking to the judge, Calpurnia’s demeanor is that of a subservient African-American; however, she speaks correct English when addressing him, not the “nigger talk” Scout previously heard from her at church. Even when she is angry with Jem for disobeying her and Aunt Alexandra, she uses correct grammar; however, she treats Jem as a disobedient child while showing deference to him by calling him Mister Jem. By having Calpurnia appear at this moment, Lee gives the reader a stark reminder of the differences between Calpurnia and Tom Robinson. 2. What literary device does Lee use in the sentence, “If Mr. Finch don’t wear you out, I will—get in that house, sir!” (p. 207) What does this sentence illustrate? The phrase “…wear you out…” is an idiom that means to give someone a spanking for doing something terribly wrong. This phrase is another illustration of the duality of Calpurnia’s role. In one phrase, she is angry at Jem and threatens to spank him if his father does not, but at the end of the sentence she refers to Jem as “sir.” By calling him “sir,” Calpurnia acknowledges the racial difference between them—he is white, and she is African-American, so he must be treated with respect.
3. Compare Scout and Jem’s opinions of the length of the jury deliberations. Jem is optimistic that the jury will fi nd Tom innocent, and when Reverend Sykes and Scout both raise doubts, Jem simply reiterates the facts, without considering the deep-seated prejudices of the members of the jury. He rationalizes the amount of time as being necessary to consider the Alabama laws concerning rape. Scout, on the other hand, does not understand the signifi cance of the length of time, but emotionally she knows that something is not right. She compares it to the winter day her father shot the mad dog, something that normally appears in only the hot days of the summer.
4. Why does Reverend Sykes make Scout stand up as her father walks by? Although Atticus lost the case, the African-American community stands up as Atticus walks by to show respect for his valiant efforts. They understand that most lawyers would not have made any attempt to provide Tom’s innocence.
1. What is the signifi cance of Aunt Alexandra saying, “I’m sorry, brother…” (p. 212) to Atticus?
This is signifi cant because it is the fi rst time she has called Atticus “brother.” At a time when she could remind Atticus that she had predicted this outcome, she shows that she values family loyalty above anything else, even proving that she was right. 2. What does Atticus mean when he says, “They’ve done it before and they did it tonight and they’ll do it again and when they do it—seems that only children weep?” (p. 213) What is signifi cant about Atticus saying the same thing that Mr. Raymond said to Scout and Dill?
Both Atticus and Mr. Raymond have always believed that the adults of Maycomb ignore the injustice that results from their prejudice against African-Americans, and they will continue to do so. Before taking on Robinson’s trial, Atticus was seen as one of the most upstanding citizens by the Maycomb community, whereas they shun Raymond because he lives with an African-American woman. However, the moment Atticus became Robinson’s lawyer, the Maycomb community shuns him just like Raymond. The signifi cance of Atticus statement is that he reminds the children that he has not changed his attitude; the town changes its impression of him because he acted on his beliefs just like Raymond does—the belief that there is nothing wrong with associating with African-Americans—Atticus was treated like Raymond was.
3. How does Lee remind the reader of the character of Miss Stephanie, Miss Rachel, and Miss Maudie through their comments to children after the trial is over? Miss Stephanie remains true to her character by immediately starting to question the children based on the gossip she had heard in town. Miss Rachel shows her lackluster attitude toward others by saying that it is okay with her if Atticus wants to continue to “…butt his head against a stone wall.…” (p. 213) As is typical of Miss Maudie, she takes the children inside her house to have cake, answer their questions, and console them, particularly Jem. 4. What does Miss Maudie mean when she says, “There are some men in this world who were born to do our unpleasant jobs…?” (p. 215)
She is explaining to the children that their father is an unusual man who is willing to do whatever needs to be done, regardless of how diffi cult, painful, or unpopular the task may be. Although most lawyers would not have made an effort, Atticus tried his hardest to provide the best defense for Tom Robinson.
5. Why does Lee use Miss Maudie to explain Atticus’ role in the community? A child of Scout’s age is not sophisticated enough to understand, and therefore explain, that Atticus is not an average person but a truly remarkable man. Therefore, having a character such as Miss Maudie close to the children allows Lee to remind the reader of Atticus’ dedication.
6. What does Bob Ewell’s confrontation with Atticus foreshadow? Although Ewell should be happy that Tom was found guilty, he is furious because Atticus made a fool of him on the witness stand. This foreshadows that the violence may not be over, and Ewell will continue to stir up the town.
1. Describe how Atticus’ response to Ewell’s threat is consistent with his character. Atticus shows his compassion for all people when he insists that the children try to understand the situation from Ewell’s perspective. Atticus explains that Ewell spit in his face because Atticus had taken away, “…his last shred of credibility at that trial, if he had any to begin with.” (p. 218) Atticus demonstrates his belief that all people are basically good by saying that once Ewell publicly confronted him, they will not hear any more from him. Atticus shows his protective attitude toward his children when he says he would rather Ewell get mad at him than harm his children, which he does not believe Ewell would do. 2. What does Jem misunderstand about the length of the jury’s deliberations? What is the signifi cance of this jury’s deliberations and the effect they have on Jem? Jem thought that the jury did not take much time to decide on their verdict. However, Atticus sees hope in the number of hours this jury took to come to what he called an inevitable verdict. He explains that most juries in a case like this only take a few minutes. Jem cannot see beyond his feelings of betrayal, because the jury did not vote based on the facts. 3. Why does Lee select a Cunningham to be the juror who cast the not-guilty votes? By having a Cunningham serve as the juror who kept the jury deliberations going, Lee provides the reader with an example of Atticus’ belief that every person is inherently good, and even an uneducated white man can see justice is more important than prejudice. When Jem acknowledges his confusion about the Cunninghams wanting to kill Tom and then fi ghting to set him free, Atticus reminds Jem that he and Scout helped Atticus earn the respect of Walter’s father the night at the jail, which benefi ted Tom in the jury room. T-42
4. How does Lee use humor to change the tone of Atticus’ conversation with the children about the jury’s verdict?
When the children are curious about the relationship of the Cunningham on the jury to their friend Walter, Atticus claims they are double fi rst cousins. Then Scout fi gures out that her children with Dill (whom she expects to marry) would be double fi rst cousins of Jem’s children if Jem were to marry Dill’s sister.
5. Describe how Aunt Alexandra’s response to Scout’s comment about Walter Cunningham is consistent with her character.
Scout says that she wants to invite Walter to dinner and to play after school, but Aunt Alexandra reminds Scout that the Cunninghams are not their “…kind of folks.” (p. 224) This is consistent with Aunt Alexandra’s belief that the Finch family is part of the upper class because of their heritage, and as such, they must refrain from associating with the lower classes.
6. What evidence of Jem’s increasing maturity does Lee include in this chapter? When Scout is upset by Aunt Alexandra’s reference to the Cunninghams as trash, Jem explains to Scout the four class distinctions in Maycomb and tells her how each class hates the one below it. From Jem’s explanation of Aunt Alexandra’s repeated emphasis on the Finch family heritage, the reader can infer that he is beginning to feel some pity for her. Finally, Jem shows his distain for this class structure by sharing his conjecture that Boo Radley stays inside the house all the time to avoid having to deal with these prejudices. Note to Teacher: The students may say that Jem shows Scout the hair growing on his chest as a sign that he is maturing. You may want to remind them that physical growth and maturity do not always go hand-in-hand.
1. Explain the satire that Lee uses in this chapter.
The women in Aunt Alexandra’s missionary circle are very sympathetic toward the unfortunate Mrunas in Africa, but they are extremely cruel when talking about their own servants, who are of similar heritage as the Mrunas. Scout understands the hypocrisy of what these women are saying. Aunt Alexandra is very pleased with Scout’s help in serving at the tea, and she is particularly happy that Scout is dressed as a young lady for once; however, she completely misses the cruelty that Mrs. Merriweather demonstrates when talking about Atticus.
2. Explain the irony of Mrs. Merriweather’s comments about getting the preacher to help “…her lead a Christian life for those children from here on out.” (p. 231) This is an example of situational irony because when Mrs. Merriweather explains to Scout that she’s referring to Tom Robinson’s wife, Mrs. Merriweather is unaware that Scout knows more about Tom’s wife than Mrs. Merriweather does. From attending Calpurnia’s church when Reverend Sykes took up the collection to help the Robinsons, Scout knows that Mrs. Robinson leads a Christian life, so she assumes Mrs. Merriweather is talking about Mayella Ewell.
3. Why does Miss Maudie get so angry at Mrs. Merriweather?
Mrs. Merriweather is criticizing Atticus for defending Tom Robinson, because she believes that Atticus’ statements in court are responsible for stirring up the African-American community. Miss Maudie is angry at both what Mrs. Merriweather is saying and the fact that she is criticizing Atticus while sitting in his home, eating his food, and talking with his daughter.
4. What is Lee alluding to when Mrs. Merriweather says, “Mrs. Roosevelt’s lost her mind— just plain lost her mind coming down to Birmingham and tryin’ to sit with ’em.…” (p. 234)
In the late 1930s, Eleanor Roosevelt visited a meeting of the Southern Conference for Human Welfare in Birmingham, Alabama. During that meeting, Mrs. Roosevelt continued to sit with the African-Americans after the state police told her she was breaking Alabama’s segregation laws.
5. What does Mrs. Merriweather mean when she says, “It’s never entered that wool of hers that the only reason I keep her is because this depression’s on…?” (p. 233) Mrs. Merriweather is cruelly referring to her African-American servant’s hair when she says, “…that wool of hers…” and is complaining that Sophy has been unhappy since Tom Robinson’s trial. Mrs. Merriweather claims that she has been kind toward Sophy, because she has not fi red her during the depression; however, Mrs. Merriweather does not even seem to be aware of how prejudiced and condescending she sounds.
6. How does Aunt Alexandra’s reaction to Tom’s death mirror Jem’s distress after the trial? Like Jem, Aunt Alexandra is extremely upset, and she questions the actions of the white people of Maycomb, claiming that they are responsible for harming another person. The difference is that Aunt Alexandra blames them for harming Atticus, whereas Jem blames them for Tom’s conviction. Both Jem and Aunt Alexandra are upset about the harmful effect that the people’s attitudes and actions have on Atticus.
7. How do Aunt Alexandra, Miss Maudie, and Scout follow Atticus’ example by returning to the missionary circle? Why is this so signifi cant for Scout? This exemplifi es Atticus’ belief that courage means continuing to do something diffi cult when it would be easier to quit. All three of them return to the party as if nothing has happened other than Calpurnia leaving with Atticus. They play the role of the proper Southern lady by serving the guests tea and cookies, and they join the conversation of the party. In particular, Scout willingly assumes the role of a young lady, rather than resenting the fact that her aunt has asked her to return to the party.
8. What literary device does Lee use when Scout is describing how she pumped the organ in the chapel at Finch’s Landing? What is Scout’s purpose for this description? This is an example of a metaphor. A pump organ has bellows that must be fi lled with air before the organ can make any sound. If the organist presses a note without pumping the bellows, the note will fade into silence. Scout is comparing Mrs. Merriweather to a pump organ that has run out of air; Mrs. Merriweather had talked long enough that she ran out of air, so she had to stop talking until she could inhale suffi ciently. Chapter 25
1. What is the signifi cance of Jem’s reaction to Scout when she starts to kill the roly-poly? Killing bugs is something that Jem and Scout always did as children. However, Jem is more aware of how vulnerable lesser creatures are—in this case, the roly-poly, but in his recent experiences, Tom Robinson. Therefore, Jem does not want Scout to kill the roly-poly, because it cannot defend itself.
2. What does Lee show through Maycomb’s lack of concern about Tom’s death? Lee shows that Maycomb feels Tom’s death justifi es their racist attitudes. None of the people seem surprised that Tom tried to escape, because that is the stereotypical view they have of African-Americans.
3. What can the reader infer about Lee’s use of “…the senseless slaughter of songbirds…” in Underwood’s editorial?
The reader can infer that Lee is equating Tom Robinson to the innocent mockingbird that Atticus forbids his children to shoot. Tom symbolizes an innocent victim killed by a force stronger than he is.
4. When describing her thoughts about Underwood’s editorial, how does Scout show that she has not lost all of her childhood innocence, but is beginning to understand the implications of racism?
Her confusion about Underwood calling Tom’s death a senseless killing shows that she initially accepts his guilty verdict at face value. She feels that because Tom was given a trial, his death is not senseless. However, by realizing that Tom was sentenced to death the minute Mayella accused him of any inappropriate behavior, Scout shows that she understands the power that white people have over African-Americans simply because of the color of their skin.
5. How does Lee create suspense at the end of this chapter? What does Ewell’s comment foreshadow?
Jem hears Miss Stephanie gossiping with Aunt Alexandra about Bob Ewell’s comments when he fi nds out that Tom Robinson is dead. Ewell’s comment that there are now only two more to go foreshadows his plans of violence against two other participants in the trial. Jem assumes that one of them is Atticus, but the reader is left to guess who the other person is. Chapter 26
1. Briefl y describe the examples that Lee uses in this chapter to show Scout’s continuing character development. What does each example illustrate about Scout? Scout’s refl ections about three different incidents show that she is becoming more compassionate and thoughtful about her own actions, but she is still innocent enough that she does not yet understand the inconsistency of other people’s actions and attitudes. First, Scout has matured enough to regret the way that Jem, Dill, and she bothered the Radleys during the previous summer, but she is still puzzled by the gifts that Boo Radley left in the tree. Second, when Scout thinks about Atticus’ re-election, she understands that the citizens of Maycomb do not blame Jem and her for their father’s actions, but she wonders why they continue to re-elect Atticus if they do not like what he did when defending Tom Robinson. Third, Scout is quite confused by her teacher’s condemnation of Hitler’s atrocities and prejudices, because she knows that Miss Gates thought Robinson’s conviction would ensure that the African- Americans would know their place in Maycomb.
2. What does Scout mean when she says, “…time was playing tricks on…?” her (p. 243) Scout’s memories of Jem, Dill, and her trying to get Boo Radley to come out of his house seem like they took place years ago, but she realizes that it was only the previous summer. So much has happened since then that she is not sure how many summers have passed since they focused all their energies on Boo. This shows the impact that the events surrounding the trial have had on her.
3. What type of literary device does Lee use in the following statement? Perhaps Atticus was right, but the events of the summer hung over us like smoke in a closed room. (p. 243)
This is an example of a simile, in which two subjects are compared, generally using the connecting words “like” or “as.” The purpose of a simile is to compare a subject unfamiliar to the reader—in this case, the events of Scout’s summer—with something familiar to the reader—the way smoke settles in an unventilated room.
4. Why did Jem get so angry at Scout?
Jem has been wrestling with the anger and betrayal he feels because the jury convicted Tom Robinson. By mentioning Miss Gates’ reaction to the trial, Scout reminds Jem of all his negative feelings, which he does not know how to handle. His natural response is frustration and anger at Scout because she is the person who causes him to remember all his anger, betrayal, and uncertainty.
5. What is Lee’s purpose for re-introducing Boo Radley in this chapter? Not only is Lee showing the reader that the children no longer see Boo Radley as a horrible monster, but she is also reminding the reader that Boo Radley still lives next door and may be brought back into the storyline in future chapters.
1. How does Lee use other Maycomb citizens to build suspense? Lee shows the reader that life in Maycomb has not returned to normal as Atticus had predicted it would. Each incident involves someone associated with the trial, but none are members of the Finch family. First, Bob Ewell accuses Atticus of getting him fi red from his WPA job, which he held very briefl y after the trial. This is the reader’s introduction to Miss Ruth, yet Lee makes the point that Miss Ruth is suffi ciently scared by what Ewell says, that she leaves her job to go tell Atticus. Second, someone tries to break into Judge Taylor’s home at a time when Judge Taylor is usually at church. Lee does not tell the reader who the person is or what damage is done—only that Judge Taylor is suffi ciently concerned that he sits with his shotgun in his lap. Third, Bob Ewell harasses Helen Robinson so much that she begins walking an extra mile to avoid any confrontation. However, Link Deas intimidates Ewell enough that he fi nally leaves Helen alone.
2. What is Lee’s purpose for the allusion to the WPA and the Ladies’ Law? What do they signify?
The Works Progress Administration (WPA) was a governmental agency created during the Depression to provide employment to millions of US citizens that otherwise would have had no job. It was extremely rare that anyone lost a job with the WPA. The Ladies’ Law was an Alabama statute that criminalized the use of obscene or abusive language within hearing distance of any woman or young girl. By saying that Ewell lost his WPA job and having Deas threaten to enforce the Ladies’ Law against Ewell, Lee reminds the reader how despicable Ewell really is.
3. What does Atticus’ reaction to Ewell’s problems with the WPA and Link Deas indicate to the reader about Atticus’ character?
At this point, the reader should begin to wonder if Atticus is being naïve, since Ewell continues to make threats against everyone remotely involved in the trail. The reader sees that Atticus still believes that Ewell is not a threat to the Finches, even after the episodes at the welfare offi ce, Judge Taylor’s house, and Link Deas’ house. Atticus is single-minded in his ability to justify Ewell’s actions and in his belief that every person is inherently good. 4. Briefl y describe Scout’s relationship with Aunt Alexandra at this point in the story. Scout has matured enough that she no longer fi ghts her aunt’s attempts to teach her appropriate manners for a Southern young lady. For example, Scout accepts her role as Aunt Alexandra’s helper in the missionary society’s afternoon teas. She also shows concern when Aunt Alexandra decides she needs to go to bed after working on the school Halloween pageant.
5. How does Lee use humor to soften the seriousness of the prank that was played on the two vulnerable sisters on the previous Halloween?
The prank itself involved breaking into the sisters’ home and moving all of the furniture from the living room into the cellar. However, Lee paints a comical picture of the incident beginning with the sisters’ nicknames—Miss Tutti and Miss Frutti. Tutti-frutti literally is a fl avor of sweet, usually ice cream, in which a variety of candied fruits and nuts are mixed; however, it is often used to mean a person who is mixed-up, easily confused, or crazy. The sisters consistently appear to be confused about what happened. Although both of the sisters are deaf, they swear that they heard Syrians drive up, stomp around the house, and steal their furniture. The sisters also claim that the thieves were “dark.” (p. 252) When Heck Tate disagrees with their assertions, Miss Frutti claims that she would recognize a Maycomb accent anywhere, although her hearing is bad enough that she uses a megaphone so she can hear anyone.
6. How does Lee re-create the sense of foreboding at the end of the chapter? Lee fi rst uses Aunt Alexandra to create apprehension by saying, “…somebody just walked over my grave…” (p. 253), which means that she got a sudden feeling something bad is about to happen. Then Scout refers to Jem and her starting their “…longest journey together…” (p. 254), when in reality, they are only walking to the school. Chapter 28
1. How does Lee use light and darkness to create the tone at the beginning of this chapter? Scout describes the night as very dark, with no moon. Even though they can see the lights of the school, these lights do not help them; in fact, the lights prevent them from being able to see where they are stepping. They regret that they did not think to bring a fl ashlight. It is so dark that both Jem and Scout are scared briefl y when Cecil Jacobs jumps out from behind the oak tree.
2. What is the signifi cance of “…the solitary mocker…in blissful unawareness of whose tree he sat in…?” (p. 254)
Lee is referring to the innocent mockingbird sitting in the Radley’s tree singing the songs of various other birds. The mockingbird symbolizes innocence, and Lee is reminding the reader that innocence still exists in this story. However, the reader is left to fi gure out whose innocence Lee is referencing. the mockingbird is innocent enough not to realize it is sitting in a tree on the Radley’s property.
3. What is Lee’s purpose for having Scout fall asleep backstage while waiting to make her entrance?
By having Scout fall asleep, Lee sets the stage for the children walking home alone in the dark, with Scout limited by her costume. Because Scout falls asleep, she misses her entrance and ends up running on stage during the fi nale, and the absurdity of a ham appearing suddenly causes the audience to laugh. Scout is so embarrassed that she waits backstage until everyone has left, and she does not change clothes, but remains hidden inside her costume. T-49
4. How does Lee increase the level of suspense as the children being walking home? Lee again draws on darkness to create suspense. Because Scout is in her costume, it is very dark, she cannot see very well, and Jem has to lead her through the darkness. When Scout realizes that she left her shoes at school, they turn around to get them, only to see the lights at the school go out, which emphasizes that they are all alone out there. Because of her costume, Scout cannot see what is happening when they get attacked. Lee also uses silence to increase the suspense. First Jem thinks he hears something, but when they stop, it is completely quiet. Then they both think they hear something, probably Cecil, and holler at him; but again, it is completely silent. Finally, they hear the soft swish of someone wearing cotton pants as they walk, but the person does not speak to them. 5. How does Scout’s role as the narrator affect the reader’s sense of the attack on the children?
Scout’s costume prevents her from seeing what is happening, being able to escape, and therefore, increasing her sense of disorientation and helplessness, which in turn increases the suspense for the reader. Because she cannot see, she is only able to describe the attack for the reader based on what she hears and feels fi rsthand. If this incident were told in the third person, the reader would know who attacks the children and who saves them. 6. How does Scout realize that Aunt Alexandra really does love her and accept her for who she is?
Although Aunt Alexandra calls her “darling” two times (p. 264), the act that makes Scout realize Aunt Alexandra loves her is that she gives Scout her overalls to put on once she gets out of the costume. Aunt Alexandra hates Scout’s overalls more than anything, because in Alexandra’s mind, only boys should wear overalls. However, Scout sees the overalls as a representation of who she is—a tomboy.
7. How does Atticus show his own innocence when talking to Heck Tate? Atticus says that he has no idea who would harm his children like this. However, it is obvious to the reader that the person who attacked his children is Bob Ewell. 8. What clues does Lee give the reader about Ewell’s death? What conclusions can the reader draw from these clues?
Lee says that Ewell has a kitchen knife stuck in his ribs, and Scout notes that a countryman is standing in the corner of Jem’s bedroom whom Scout assumes is the man that saved them. Note to Teacher: The students may draw various conclusions from these clues, ranging from the countryman being a Cunningham, who killed Ewell, to Jem fi nding a knife that he used to kill Ewell.
1. Why does Aunt Alexandra feel responsible for what happened? She remembers that she had the premonition that something bad was going to happen, but she dismissed it. If she had paid attention to her feeling, then she would have been able to prevent the attack by going to the play with the children or by having Atticus drive them to and from the school.
2. What clues does Lee give the reader about how Atticus feels? What do Atticus’ comments tell the reader about his beliefs?
Lee gives the reader several clues that Atticus feels guilty for allowing his children to be attacked by Bob Ewell. He says he always plays his radio too loud, implying that if he played it softer he would have heard his children screaming. He also comments on how Scout’s costume is completely destroyed. Atticus then says he cannot understand anyone harming a child. He is trying to reconcile his belief in the inherent goodness of all people with Ewell’s evilness. He feels guilty, because he knows that his blindness to Ewell’s threats almost cost his children their lives.
3. What clues does Lee give Scout so she can realize who the countryman really is? Lee has Scout notice the man’s sickly white hands; his face as white as his hands; his delicate temples; his gray, colorless eyes; and his thin, feathery hair. Scout draws the conclusion that the person has never spent time outside.
4. What is the symbolism of Scout’s reference to Arthur Radley’s feathery hair? The reference to feathers symbolizes the innocence of Radley, which would have been destroyed if he had to face a public trial—just like the innocence of a mockingbird being killed.
1. What does Scout mean when she says, “…then I understood. The livingroom lights were awfully strong?” (p. 271)
Scout assumes that Boo prefers being in the dark since he never goes outside. She supports Atticus’ decision to go to the porch by leading Boo to the rocking chair in the darkest part of the porch.
2. How does Lee help Scout see Boo Radley as a human being rather than the monster that she and Jem had always considered him?
Lee has several of the adults in the room treat Boo as a normal human being, thus demystifying Boo for Scout. For example, Atticus introduces Scout to Arthur (Boo) as he would any other human being. Then Dr. Reynolds says hello to Arthur as if he frequently visits the Radley house. Dr Reynolds’ acknowledgement of Arthur makes Scout realize that Boo probably gets sick just like everyone else does.
3. Why does Heck Tate want to cover up the real cause of Ewell’s death? How does Atticus misinterpret this?
Heck wants to say that Ewell fell on his own knife, because Tate does not want to go to court to prove that Ewell was killed in order to protect the children. Atticus assumes that Tate wants to protect Jem from having to go to court, but Tate is not protecting Jem. 4. What does Atticus’ refusal to avoid a trial for Jem show about his character? Atticus will not bend the law, even for his own child. As he said in his summation at the trial, the judicial process is the great equalizer.He believes in justice for all, including his own son. 5. Briefl y discuss Scout’s reference to the mockingbird when Atticus asks if she understands Tate’s decision.
Scout is comparing Arthur Radley to a mockingbird. Arthur is truly innocent, like the mockingbird, and even though any jury would fi nd him innocent of murder, making Arthur go through a highly publicized trial would kill him emotionally, just like shooting a mockingbird.
6. Why is Tate so adamant about protecting Arthur Radley? How does Lee show the reader Tate’s intent?
Tate knows that he did not protect Tom Robinson from the evil of Ewell’s accusations, so he believes that Ewell got his just reward by dying when he tried to kill Atticus’ children. Tate wants to stand up and do the right thing this time by protecting Arthur from the publicity, as seen in his statement, “…let the dead bury the dead.…” (p. 276) 7. Which character learns the most about human nature in this chapter? Note to Teacher: Answers may vary to this question. Some students may say that Atticus learns the most because he realizes that there are some times when it is best to bend the law. Although he had told Scout this early in the story when explaining why the Ewell children did not have to attend school, he did not really agree with this view until tonight. Other students may say that Scout learned the most, because she understands more clearly than her father does why Tate is so adamant about reporting Ewell’s death as self-infl icted. T-52
1. What is the signifi cance of Scout’s guiding Arthur Radley through the house and then to his own home?
Scout has fi nally realized the importance of being a Southern lady and kind hostess. As she stands on the Radleys’ porch, she also understands what it really means to see the world through someone else’s eyes; she sees herself and Jem running to meet their father each day, all the neighbors going about their daily business, a boy carrying a fi shing pole, two children shivering in front of his house on a cold winter night, etc. 2. What does Scout mean when she says, “Autumn again, and Boo’s children needed him?” (p. 279)
Scout knows how much Arthur cares about her and Jem. Arthur does not have any children of his own, but he has watched Scout and Jem grow up. When Arthur saw them being attacked by Bob Ewell, he acted as if he were their father—he risked his life to protect them, knowing that he could possibly be taken to jail or court if he hurt Ewell. 3. Why does Lee have Atticus read The Gray Ghost to Scout?
Lee uses The Gray Ghost to review the events in Scout’s life over the past year—Scout and Jem thought of Boo Radley as a madman because they never saw him, just like the people thought Stoner’s Boy was causing the trouble in The Gray Ghost. However, once Scout met Arthur, she realized that he was a very kind person, just like the characters who met Stoner’s Boy in The Gray Ghost.
Lee also uses the book as a way for Scout to explain to Atticus that she was not scared while Ewell was attacking them. She did not get scared until she had to tell the story to Heck Tate, just like getting scared when reading a book.
4. What is the signifi cance of Atticus putting Scout to bed after she falls asleep in Jem’s room?
By having Atticus undress Scout and put her to bed, Lee is reminding the reader that Scout is just a little girl. Even though she has learned quite a lot about human nature, Scout is still a child.__