To kill a mocking bird learning outcomes

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TO KILL A MOCKING BIRD learning outcomes

  • Research the setting of TKMB, focusing on the black civil rights movements.
  • Read the novel and make your own concise notes.
  • Analyse the setting and demonstrate in writing how it relates to the themes.
  • Identify 3 main characters and a range of minor characters explaining how they are used to highlight the novel’s key themes.

Analyse in depth two/three key scenes and discuss how language is used to create meaning. Link the scene with major themes in the novel.

  • Analyse in depth two/three key scenes and discuss how language is used to create meaning. Link the scene with major themes in the novel.
  • Discuss the wider messages present in the novel. Why is it a classic?
  • Plan, draft and write a literary essay to level 2 NCEA standard.
  • Students will need to be able to write about plot, setting, character and theme.

To Kill a Mockingbird

  • By Harper Lee

Harper Lee

  • Born April 28, 1926 in Monroeville, Alabama.
  • Youngest of four children
  • Studied Law at the University of Alabama.
  • Wrote the novel in the mid to late 1950’s
  • Published in 1960 (her only published novel).


  • To Kill a Mockingbird is a conventional literary novel. This means, among other things that it:
  • is written in a form of standard English which has a wide-ranging lexicon (vocabulary) . Contains regional language from the American ‘South’ - e.g. cootie, haint, scuppernongs, whistled bob-white.
  • includes references to art and culture which the author expects the reader to know (or find out)
  • relates principal events mostly in the past tense.

The Novel (Dunne, 2004)

  • In 1960, Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird entered a national discourse in the throes of
  • Civil Rights reform. The story, with its climactic rendering of a racial injustice that reflects the
  • 1930’s Scottsboro trials, immediately commanded nationwide attention. Within the year, it won
  • a Pulitzer Prize and immediately moved into classrooms. More than forty years later, after tens
  • of millions of copies sold, ten foreign language translations, a movie, a play, and much
  • censorship debate, Mockingbird remains a curricular centerpiece for examining the themes of
  • discrimination and justice in literature. The story, narrated from the perspective of the young
  • Scout, is strongly emotive, and the novel is in fact one of the top books “most often cited as
  • making a difference in people’s lives,” second only to the Bible (Johnson xi). Even in the
  • development of this project, the very mention of Mockingbird has sparked a nearly universal
  • response from readers across ages: “I love that book!”


  • Southern United States
  • 1930’s
    • Great Depression
    • Prejudice and legal segregation
    • Ignorance

1930’s - Great Depression began when the stock market crashed in October, 1929

  • Businesses failed, factories closed
    • People were out of work
    • Even people with money suffered because nothing was being produced for sale.
  • Poor people lost their homes, were forced to “live off the land.”

Racial prejudice was alive & well. Although slavery had ended in 1864, old ideas were slow to change.

Racial separation (segregation)

Gender Bias (Prejudice)

  • Women were considered “weak”
  • Women were generally not educated for occupations outside the home
  • In wealthy families, women were expected to oversee the servants and entertain guests
  • Men not considered capable of nurturing children

“White trash”

  • Poor, uneducated white people who lived on “relief “
    • lowest social class, even below the poor blacks?
    • prejudiced against black people
    • felt the need to “put down” blacks in order to elevate themselves

Social Class The classic capitalist pyramid

  • The novel has a clear hierarchical social order
  • Wealthy – Finches.
  • Country Folk – Cunninghams.
  • White Trash – Ewells.
  • Black Community – Robinsons.

Legal Issues of the 1930’s which impact the story

  • Women given the vote in 1920
  • Juries were MALE and WHITE
  • “Fair trial” did not include acceptance of a black man’s word against a white man’s

Prejudice in the novel

  • Race
  • Gender
  • Handicaps
  • Rich/Poor
  • Age
  • Religion


  • Scout (Jean Louise Finch) – 6 years old – narrator of the story.
  • Jem (Jeremy) Finch – Scout’s 10 year old brother.
  • Atticus Finch – The father of Scout and Jem. A prominent lawyer.
  • Calpurnia – the Finches’ black cook/maid.
  • Dill – (Charles Baker Harris) – Friend of Scout and Jem who visits his auntie in Maycomb each summer.
  • Tom Robinson – A black man accused of raping a white woman.
  • Arthur (Boo) Radley – A 33 year old recluse next door to the Finches’.
  • Bob Ewell – Unemployed white drunk – accuses Tom of raping his daughter Mayella.
  • Miss Maudie Atkinson – The Finches’ next door neighbor and family friend.
  • Aunt Alexandra – Atticus’ sister, with traditional ‘Southern’ values.

Point of View

  • First person
    • Story is told by Scout, a 10-year-old girl
    • Harper Lee is actually a woman; Scout represents the author as a little girl although the story is not strictly autobiographical

Reading the Novel

  • Setting is all important –be aware of the
  • “where” and “when” as you begin
  • Point of View – the novel is shaped by the voice of a young girl who sees the story from a position of naïve acceptance
  • “Goodness vs. Ignorance (Evil)” is an important theme

First chapter

  • Make short notes as you read through the first chapter, Just important information.
  • E.g. Atticus Finch is Lawyer in town.


  • Complete Chapter I and take notes on the following information.
  • Characters
  • Event
  • response


  • Share chapter 2 notes with a partner.
  • Class brainstorm on chapter 2.


  • Jem and Scout at school
  • Ms Caroline v Atticus
  • Walter Cunningham Lunch money – poor
  • nb what do we learn about Atticus and Cunningham 'payments'?
  • Scout whipped by teacher – doesn't understand why.


  • what decade of the twentieth century is the novel set in?
  • What style/type of narration does Harper Lee us to tell the story?
  • Which state is Maycomb set in?
  • Complete the important quote, “Maycomb was an ______ town, but it was a ______ _______ when I first knew it.
  • Describe one physical feature of Calpurnia.
  • What is the nick name and real name of the “malevolent phantom” who lives three doors to the south of scout and her family?

Chapter two

  • What was scout’s attitude towards school before she went?
  • What is it about Scout’s character that gets her into trouble at school on her first day?
  • How does the introduction of school into Scout’s life change her relationship with Jem?
  • How would you describe Scout’s attitudes and feelings towards Walter?
  • How does Lee use Scout’s experiences on her first day at school to question formal education systems? What does the writer seemingly abject to about the system?


  • Read chapter three and continue making notes on character, theme and plot.


  • Scout’s first experience away from home.
  • She thinks people are the same everywhere and therefore the teacher should know the Cunninghams are poor and too proud to accept what they cannot pay for.
  • Learns that the city people are different, and that people cannot be blamed for honest mistakes.

Miss Caroline

  • Learns something too. In the morning she is disturbed when Scout tried to tell her about Walter but in the afternoon is willing to listen an explanation about Burris Ewell.
  • Characters gain new insights from their associations with other characters.

Chapter 3

  • What is a cootie?
  • “In Maycomb Country, hunting out of season was a misdemeanour at law, a capital felony in the eyes of the populace”, explain in your own words.
  • Why is Bob Ewell allowed to hunt out of season?
  • Atticus says that you never really understand a person ‘until you climb into his skin and walk around in it”. What does this mean?


  • Fathers: Atticus/ Bob Ewell/ Nathan Radley
  • Children: Scout/ Jem/ Dill/ Burris Ewell/ Walter Cunningham.
  • Education: Atticus/ Scout/ Miss Caroline/ Burris Ewell.

Implications and Inferences

  • Good writers don’t explain every tiny detail but imply much that is not spelled out, leaving it to the reader to make inferences.
  • ‘The tradition of living on the land remained unbroken’ until Atticus ‘went to Montgomery to read law…’
  • What does example tell us about Atticus?

The mockingbird theme

  • ‘it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird’
  • “Mockingbirds don't do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. They don't eat up people's gardens, they don't nest in corncribs, they don't do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That's why it's a sin to kill a mockingbird. ”

The mockingbird of the proverb is a harmless creature which does its best to please its hearers by singing, but which is defenceless against hunters. (Perhaps hunters with a sense of sport would avoid the bird, as being too easy a target.) The wrongness of killing the bird is evident, but it becomes a metaphor for the wrongness of harming innocent and vulnerable people.

  • The mockingbird of the proverb is a harmless creature which does its best to please its hearers by singing, but which is defenceless against hunters. (Perhaps hunters with a sense of sport would avoid the bird, as being too easy a target.) The wrongness of killing the bird is evident, but it becomes a metaphor for the wrongness of harming innocent and vulnerable people.

Chapter 4

  • Dill’s second year.
  • The children find gifts in the oak outside the Radley’s place: chewing gum, coins, string etc.
  • Dill decides they should make Boo come out.
  • The children play act his life.

Chapter 5

  • Scout responds to Jem’s growing closeness with Dill by spending time with Miss Maudie.
  • The boys try to get a note inside to boo; Atticus tells them to leave him alone.

Character Sheets

  • Write two or three words or phrases to sum up each of the following characters:
  • Scout, Atticus, Jem, Calpurnia, Dill, Miss Caroline, Walter Cunningham, Burris Ewell, Boo Radley and Miss Stephanie Crawford.

Understanding the text

  • Who is putting the gifts in the oak tree?
  • What evidence is there that the children know Atticus would disapprove of Boo Radley game?
  • Why does Scout begin to spend so much time with Mrs Maudie?
  • In what ways is Mrs Maudie like Atticus?
  • Explain in your own words why Miss Maudie dislikes the ‘foot-bashing Baptists’?
  • What do the children-especially Jem learn from the gifts in the tree?

Understanding setting

  • Historical
  • Social
  • Geographic

Reciprocal reading

  • In groups you are going to read from the first page of chapter 6.
  • After you have read the page you will clarify any words or phrases you didn’t understand.
  • Discuss any questions you have about what happened (characters, plot, setting etc.)
  • Note down what happened.
  • The gist
  • Players (characters)
  • interesting

Chapter 6

  • On Dill’s last night, he and Jem decide to try and look inside Radley’s window.
  • They are discovered by Mr Radley who fires a shot in the air.
  • Jem loses his pants on the fence in his panic; later, he retrieves them.

Chapter 7

  • Jem tell her that his pants had been mended and folded.
  • They find string in the tree; in Oct, there are soap carvings, chewing gum, a medals, and an old watch.
  • The hole in the tree has been cemented up.

Chapters 4-7

  • focus: Radley’s place and the kid’s reaction to it.
  • A gap begins to form between Scout and the boys, she becomes uncomfortable with what they are doing.
  • The cement makes Jem feel deeply for Boo Radley and he cries. He realises Boo like leaving the articles, and he cannot understand how one man can be cruel to another.

Chapter 8

  • Mrs Radley dies.
  • The children build a snowman that looks like Mrs Avery.
  • Miss Maudie’s house burns down.
  • Outside in the snow, Scout has a blanket put around her.


  • What does the building of the snowman reveal about Jem?
  • What does the fire reveal about the people of Maycomb?
  • What important lesson does Scout learn from the destruction of Miss Maudie’s house?
  • Why does Miss Maudie laugh when laugh when scout refers to the ‘absolute morphodite’?

Prominent themes

  • Courage: Miss Maudie’s house burned down, no self pity but build again. An example of quiet spectacular courage.
  • Kindness: Boo and the blanket.
  • Chapters 8-11 contain varieties of courage.

Key quotes

  • “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” (3)
  • “Sometimes the Bible in the hand of one man is worse than a whisky bottle in the hand of your father.”(5)
  • “I remember Arthur Radley when he was a boy. He always spoke nicely to me, no matter what folks said he did.” (5)
  • “Atticus told me to delete the adjectives and I’d have the facts” (7)


  • Copy each of the quotes into your book.
  • Under each quote identify who said it and briefly write what it reveals about a character or setting in the novel.


  • Write a SEXY paragraph describing your impression of Scout, Jem or Atticus from the first 8 chapters.
  • Remember to include key quotes from the text and examples.

Chapter 9

  • Scout fights Cecil Jacobs over Atticus’s defence of Tom Robinson, even though she doesn’t understand.
  • Christmas: Uncle Jack spanks Scout for fighting with Francis.
  • An important chapter in understanding the novel.
  • Atticus is appointed to defend Tom Robinson. Attitudes of the town and finch family are revealed.
  • Francis, Cecil Jacobs echo adults’ views- Atticus is making a mistake, is letting down his family and the white community.

Chapter 9 continued

  • Scout wants to fight- with fists, because she knows no other way. She learns this is not the way to combat a dispute over ideas.
  • Spanked unfairly, she sees injustice applied to her by someone she loves, and begins to realise that lack of knowledge and forethought often cause misguided action.
  • Later when she sees injustice against Tom, she will have a better understanding of it.

Chapter 10

  • A mad dog appears in the street. Cal calls Atticus, who comes home and shots it.
  • Adds to Atticus’s character: quiet, serious, now shown to be brave. He does day to day actions so well that performing an extraordinary action comes naturally.
  • Scout can still not understand why things should or should not be done; Jem is beginning to develop a sense of values. He understands that being a man is about knowing when and when not to speak.
  • They begin to get an inkling of Atticus’s true courage. Not the mad dog but defying the entire town in the interests of justice and a fair trail.


  • ‘Cause and Effect’
  • Complete each sentence on the sheet with the matching cause from the list below. (21)

Structure: Foreshadowing

  • Throughout the early chapters, Harper Lee continually hints at events to come. This technique of giving clues to future events is called foreshadowing. It stirs the reader’s curiosity, increase interest and attention to detail and makes the story more realistic.
  • Complete the ‘Foreshadowing’ worksheet. (22)

Chapter 11

  • Mrs Dubose’s poisonous tongue takes on Atticus; Jem gets angry and destroys her camellias.
  • Atticus sends Jem to read to Mrs Dubose; Scout accompanies him.
  • After she has died, Atticus tells them she had been overcoming a morphine addiction
  • Mrs Dubose shows another type of courage. Jem destroys camellias but they are strong and grow back, she sends one to Jem as a symbol of strength. She was almost destroyed by morphine but conquered it (camellias).


  • Children have seen three types of courage:
  • Miss Maudie
  • Atticus
  • Mrs Dubose (facing a painful death).


  • “If your father is anything, he’s civilised in his heart”
  • “Simply because we were licked a hundred years before we started is no reason for us not to try to win”
  • “Maycomb’s usual disease”
  • “Shoot all the blue jays you want… but remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird”


  • Given that it is as important as the Boo Radley story, why do you think Harper Lee waited until Chapter 9 to introduce the Tom Robinson plot?
  • By the end of part 1, all the main characters have been introduced. Contrast is an important tool in a writer’s repertoire, particularly in creating character.


  • Cal’s church.
  • Dill’s mother has remarried and he is not visiting Scout this summer.
  • Cal takes Jem and Scout to her church.
  • Aunt Alexander arrives.
  • Greater distance developing between Jem and Scout. He understands more easily, is more serious.
  • Cal comment to Lula, “It’s the same God, an’t it.”
  • Jem insists on contributing to Helen Robinson’s appeal.

Calpurnia’s lives ‘two lives’: suits her diction to her situation.

  • Calpurnia’s lives ‘two lives’: suits her diction to her situation.
  • This chapter puts Jem and Scout into the Tom Robinson plot.


  • Aunt Alexander wants Atticus to sack Calpurnia but he refuses.
  • Introduces the theme of the importance of family background and the caste system in Maycomb.
  • “I had received the impression that Fine Folks were people who did the best they could with the sense they had, but Aunt Alexander was of the opinion, obliquely expressed, that the longer a family had been squatting on one patch of land the finer it was”.

Compare and contrast

  • By the end of part 1, all the main characters have been introduced. Contrast is an important tool in a writer’s repertoire, particularly in creating character.
  • For each of the following pairs of characters, explain in what ways they are similar and in what ways different. Explain their relationship with scout and what effect each has on her. (23)

Compare and contrast

  • Dill and Francis
  • Aunt Alexandra and Uncle Jack
  • Mr Avery and Miss Maudie
  • Miss Maudie and Calpurnia
  • Aunt Alexander and Atticus
  • Similarities
  • Differences
  • Relationship with Scout
  • Effect on Scout


  • Harper Lee also contrasts the way Atticus is rearing his children with the way his family thinks he should.
  • What does he do and allow that they disapprove of? Who does the novel suggest is right? (24)


  • Many things in this novel have symbolic significance. We will look at this in the future.
  • What do you think Mrs Dubose’s camellias might symbolize?


  • Strength.
  • White colour of purity, perhaps that represent the purity she can not achieve until she beats her morphine addiction.
  • The whiteness of the flower could also represent the racism of the town.
  • Jem destroys the flowers in protest of Mrs Dubose’s racism.

Imagery and Vivid Description

  • Imagery refers mainly to figures of speech- similes, metaphors, personification- that create vivid mental pictures. However the term is often extended to language that appeals to any of the five senses: sight, hearing, taste, touch and smell.
  • Reread the descriptions of the following incidents, all taken from 10 and 11. Identify and quote examples that appeals to one of the five senses. Decide what mood the image helped to create.

Chapters 10 &11

  • The neighbourhood waits and watches for Atticus to shoot the mad dog
  • Jem and Scout wait for Atticus to come home after Jem has vandalised Mrs Dubose’s camellias. (25)

Chapter 11

  • Scout and Jem go to Mrs Dubose’s house for the first time.

Chapter 14

  • Aunt Alexandra wants Atticus to sack Cal but he refuse.
  • Jem ask Scout to not antagonise Aunt Alexandra; they fight.
  • Scout finds Dill under the bed, Jem tells Atticus, Dill is allowed to stay.
  • Re-emphasises Alexandra’s negative feelings towards Negroes. She sees the family name in danger by the Robinson case and Cal’s influence.
  • Character contrast: Alexandra puts faith in family name at expense of truth and personal happiness. Dill ran away from home to find happiness; mere home and family name insufficient. Dill had courage to seek happiness instead of resigning to false values system.

Chapter 15

  • Heck Tate and a few others visit Atticus to express their fear for Tom overnight in the jail.
  • Following night, Atticus keeps watch, kids come down and discover a lynch mob.
  • Scout shames them into going home, Mr underwood was covering Atticus with a shot gun.
  • Jem witnesses both scenes and is frightened both times- first out of ignorance, the second in face of real danger. First time he panics, the second time he stands beside his father. Knowledge has given him control over the situation.

Chapter 16 Maycomb goes to court.

  • The children discuss the events of the night before.
  • Crowds arrive for the trial- the court house is packed.
  • The children disobey orders and go to the court house: they sit with the Negroes in the Coloured balcony

Series of contrasts

  • To Aunt Alexandra, a Negro is a servant, and inferior. Underwood despises Negroes but supports Atticus.
  • Miss Maudie and the Baptists; she wont’s go to the trail, yet they condemn her.
  • Dolphus Raymond lives with a Negro woman; does what he wants despite local criticism, he can afford to.
  • Atticus was appointed to case so defends to the best of his ability, objectionable to many.
  • Authors sympathies, seen through Scout’s eyes, lie with Atticus and those who have the courage to do what is morally right, even if distasteful.

Conflict Chapter 12-15

  • There are a number of conflicts that occur in the book, both external and internal conflicts.
  • What is the difference between internal and external conflict?(29, 41)

Understanding chapter 16-20

  • Check that you have understood what you have read by completing the following sentences. (32, 41).
  • Cause and effect (32, 42).

Imagery: chapters 16-20

  • Identify the following as simile, metaphor or personification, and comment on the effect of each. (33, 43)

Analysing the trial.

  • Summarise the main points of the trail under two heading:
  • Prosecution and Defence.
  • Heck Tate, the sheriff:
  • On the left list the main points of his testimony; on the right, list the points Atticus elicits in cross-examination.
  • Prosecution
  • Defence
  • He was fetched by Bob Ewell
  • Told a Negro had raped Mayella
  • Found Mayella beaten up
  • She identified Tom as her attacker.
  • No one called a doctor to confirm rape.
  • Her injuries were on her right side and round her neck.

Analysing The Trail

  • Bob Ewell
  • On the left, summarise Ewell’s ‘evidence’; on the right, the points Atticus elicits in cross-examination.
  • Evidence
  • Cross examination

Mayella Ewell

  • Comment on Mayella’s motivation in accusing Tom, and her reaction to Atticus.
  • Evidence
  • Damming revelations

Tom Robinson

  • Admissions he makes that condemn him
  • Defence

Closing remarks

  • Who is Atticus really condemning when he addresses the jury? What is the target of his final plea?
  • Complete ‘arguing the case’ worksheet. (36, 45)


  • Vocabulary exercise 2.
  • (34,44)
  • Finish the book!

Quiz (21-26)

  • What is significant about the description of the delivering of the verdict?
  • Why do the Negroes all stand as Atticus leaves the courtroom?
  • What information does Dill reveal about Miss Rachel?
  • What is ironic about the reactions of Atticus and Aunt Alexandra to Bob Ewell’s threats?
  • Why do they react differently?
  • In your own words, explain why Women are not allowed on juries. Why does Atticus approve of this?

What is ironic about the missionary society’s conversation?

  • What is ironic about the missionary society’s conversation?
  • What is hypocritical about Miss Merriweather and the other women’s championing of the work of the saintly J. Grimes Everett in Mruna jungle?
  • “His food doesn’t stick going down, does it?” Explain what Miss Maudie means.
  • What attributes of being a lady does Scout learn to value in this chapter?
  • What hypocrisy does Scout highlight, with regards to Miss Gates? (p38-39)

Chapter 27

  • Bob Ewell repeats his threats against Atticus; Judge Taylor’s house is broken into; Ewell harasses Helen Robinson until Link Deas stops it. (Foreshadows?)
  • Maycomb plans Halloween pageant, at which Scout is to play a ham.

Chapter 28

  • Jem takes Scout to the Pageant.
  • They are followed; and attacked near the oak tree; Jem is carried home by their rescuer.
  • Doctor and Sheriff are called: Jem has a broken arm and both children are bruised and battered.
  • Heck Tate reports that Bob Ewell has been stabbed to death.
  • Suspense carefully built. Children are frightened by Cecil Jacobs; come alone in the park past the Radley house; slow build up to attack by Ewell- they know they are being followed; Scout handicapped by her ham costume and her bare feet.
  • Climax of both plots: Ewell is killed by Boo Radley.

Chapter 29 & 30

  • Chapter 29:
  • Scout tells her story and finally meets Boo Radley.
  • Chapter 30:
  • Atticus assumes it was Jem that stabbed Bob, and wont consider covering it up.
  • Heck Tate insists Ewell fell on his knife- to protect Boo from publicity.

Chapter 31

  • Scout takes Boo home. She stands on the Radley porch and looks at the street as he has seen it.
  • The story ends with justice finally done. Boo Radley, the alleged villain, has been the instrument of justice for a town too cowardly to face the truth.
  • Boo is seen in a different light; while they were spying, he was watching. Despite their trying to annoy him, he watches over them, comes to their aid, saves their lives.
  • Scout’s understanding of the world has grown. She has learned tolerance and sees Atticus’s meaning, i.e. never judge anyone else’s ideas until she had looked at them from their point of view.


  • “a low-down skunk with enough liquor in him to make him brave enough to kill children… some kind of men… ain’t worth the bullet it takes to shoot them”
  • “There’s a black boy dead for no reason and the man responsible for it is dead. Let the dead burry the dead.”
  • “Thank you for my children, Arthur.”


  • Copy each of the quotes into your book.
  • Under each quote identify who said it and briefly write what it reveals about a character or setting in the novel.

Cause and Effect 3: chapters 21-31

  • Complete the statements on the worksheet with the reason that they happened.
  • One has been done for you. (40)
  • Complete the character match up worksheet.

Understanding the text.

  • In pairs answer the following questions:
  • How does Harper Lee create an atmosphere of mounting tension before the attack on Scout and Jem?
  • What is the significance of the pageant to the themes of the novel?
  • Why- from a plot point of view- is Scout dressed as a ham?
  • Why is it necessary for the plot for her to miss her cue?
  • Read both the first account of the attack, and scout’s description to Heck Tate and list the events, in order, of the attack.
  • Who does Atticus think killed Bob Ewell? Who is Heck really trying to protect?
  • Where does Heck Tate say he got the switchblade knife? Whose knife is it really?

Three ideas developed.

  • What are the three main ideas?
  • Education
  • Courage
  • Prejudice
  • Education
  • Importance of education to Atticus made clear in the first chapter when Jem tells Dill that Scout has known how to read “since she was born”.
  • Atticus reads to the children from newspapers and magazines as if the are adults who can understand issues at his level.

Education continued

  • What happens to on Scout’s first day at school?
  • During his closing arguments Atticus says, “the witnesses for the state… have presented themselves to you gentlemen… in the cynical confidence that their testimony would not be doubted, confident that you gentlemen would go along with them on the …evil assumption… that all Negroes lie, that all Negroes are basically immoral beings, that all Negro men are not to be trusted around our women, an assumption one associates with minds of their calibre.”
  • What is the key to breaking this ignorance?


  • Children learn powerful lessons from Atticus regarding courage and cowardice.
  • What are Atticus’s views on guns?
  • Courage is not a man with a gun.
  • Why does Atticus send Jem to read to Mrs Dubose?
  • “when you know you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what”
  • Atticus refuses to carry a gun to protect Tom Robinson from angry farmers and refuses to carry a gun to protect himself from Bob Ewell.

Courage continued

  • Bravery runs much deeper than refusing to carry a gun. What is the most courageous thing Atticus does on the novel?
  • Taking Tom’s case, knowing that the town will turn against him and his family.
  • When does Jem show bravery?
  • Refusing to leave his father’s side during the showdown with the lynch mod at the jail.
  • When does Scout show bravery?
  • Learns that it takes more courage to walk away and not fight when people antagonise her.

Prejudice in all it forms

  • What are the three types of prejudice in the novel?
  • Together they create a graphic picture of a restrictive society that prefers to cling blindly to what has always been, rather than change its ways and accept change and progress.
  • Tom Robinson case
  • Deals with racial prejudice head on.
  • “niggers” and “boy”
  • Black people occupy the lowest class level of Maycomb.
  • The fact that Atticus knows he has no chance of winning his case because Tom is black is the most explicit indicator of deep-rooted racism.
  • Atticus articulates his views on racism during his closing argument.

Gender roles and class distinctions.

  • The whole town subscribes to traditional gender roles and class distinctions, but who is the character that reinforces these notions the most?
  • Aunt Alexandra
  • Why does she believe the Finch family deserves greater respect than others and they must conduct themselves according to their status?
  • They come from a long line of landowners and have been in the county for generations.
  • What are two examples of Aunt Alexandra refusing to let Scout mix with those not of the same social class?
  • Cal’s home and Walter Cunningham to lunch.
  • How does Atticus contrast Aunt Alexandra?
  • “walk in their skin”

Gender roles continued

  • Who illustrates the expected behaviour of southern womanhood?
  • The gossiping and hypocritical missionary circle, and by Miss Stephanies and the Miss Rachels.
  • Who is a female exception in the novel?
  • Mrs Maudie. Who often keeps quiet rather than contradict or condemn her own sex.
  • How dies Scout feel about the steroetypes imposed on her?
  • Hates wearing dresses and thinks being referred to as a lady is an insult (Jem).
  • Who is an ideal worth aspiring to?
  • Mrs Maudie.

Themes that you could drive and essay with

  • All people are created equal so we should treat everyone as equal no matter what.
  • True courage is facing up to whatever obstacle you encounter, even though it may seem impossible that you will succeed.
  • Hypocrisy is cruel and unjust.
  • Reading is one of life’s most important skills. It helps us to understand ourselves, our relationships and the world around us.
  • Persecuting someone because they have black skin is unjust.

Themes are developed through

  • Parallels:
  • The Tom and Boo plots and the mockingbird symbol.
  • Boo and Dill
  • Tom and Jem both have damaged left arms
  • Miss Maudie and the Black community both provide food for the Finches after the trail.
  • Same Language used for the shooting of the mad dog and the delivering of the verdict.

Themes continued

  • To truly understand a person you need to learn to empathise with them.
  • It is important to fight with your head and not your fists.
  • G/W: In small groups discuss one of the major themes of TKMB and how Lee conveys these themes in the novel through her use of character, plot and setting. (I will assign you a theme)
  • G/W: Report back to the whole class on your theme.

Symbol and motif

  • A symbol is used to represent ideas and themes and the repeated symbol of the mockingbird represents several things in the novel. There are also other symbols present.
  • Which of the following characteristics are typical of a mockingbird?
  • A bird that hurts no one.
  • An innocent song bird.
  • A hunting bird.
  • Ill treated and shot by humans
  • A bird that damages crops
  • A bird that steals another birds nest.


  • You will write two paragraphs. One paragraph on how these characteristics of a mockingbird apply to Tom Robinson and one on Boo Radley.
  • Remember to structure your paragraphs well and use examples from the text.
  • How could the symbol of the mockingbird apply to these characters:
  • Atticus, Dill, Mayella, Dolphus Raymond and his family?


  • Tom is vulnerable because he is a black, disabled, living in a racist community; accused of a crime he didn’t commit.
  • Boo Radley is vulnerable because he has been psychologically affected by being confined to his house for so many years.
  • Both have harmed no one but and yet are placed on trail, in different ways, by the community.
  • The mockingbird is the state bird of Alabama. Many people have written poems about it (Walt Whitman) and some people believe when the mockingbirds fall silent this signifies that something bad is going to happen.

Symbols that develop theme

  • What themes does Lee develop with the mockingbird symbol?
  • That it is a sin to kill a mockingbird.
  • The idea of standing in another person’s shoes and trying to see things from that person’s viewpoint.
  • Mentioning of a mockingbird
  • Atticus gives the children guns at Christmas time.
  • When B.B underwood writes about Tom Robinson’s death in his column.
  • A mockingbird sings before Bob Ewell attacks Jem and Scout.
  • Scout agrees with Atticus that publicising Boo’s rescue of them would be like killing a mockingbird.

Other symbols

  • Boo Radley:
  • fear of the unknown. Small town folk fear that if they act eccentric and fail to adhere to social rules they too will end up like Boo. This fear keeps individuals from standing up for what they believe in. Until people can understand and accept Boo, like Scout at the end of the novel, they will always be stuck in a world filled with fear, lies and ignorance.
  • Tom Robinson:
  • Withered arm?
  • What is revealed through Tom’s trail?
  • Guns:
  • Represent false strength. Neighbours use guns to the detriment of developing their own personal strength.

Symbols continued

  • Snow man:
  • what was it made from?
  • What does this suggest?
  • The house fire:
  • Burns down Mrs Maudie’s house and melts the snowman?
  • Represents the moral outrage and fear of racial mixing, and also stands for the community’s fiery stance on such a think existing.

Symbols continued

  • Mad dog:
  • The madness of racism that exists in Maycomb, made explicit in the language used to describe the shooting and the trail verdict.
  • It confines the entire white neighbourhood to their homes, just as bigotry confines people.
  • Atticus is relied on to shoot it, just like he is relied on to shoot the racism that exists. What is different between them though?
  • How are the mad dog and Bob Ewell similar?

Symbols continues

  • White camellia:
  • Purity, they are Mrs Dubose’s pride and joy. They represent the purity she can not attain until later in the novel.
  • Could also represent the racism of Maycomb. Therefore Jem is attacking racism not the flowers.
  • “ next time you will know how to do it right, wont you? You’ll pull it up by the roots, wont you?”


  • Part one: Scout, Jem and Dill are absorbed in childish games and fantasies.
  • Part two: they are forced to face more serious situations.
  • During the first part of the novel, Lee constructs a sweet and affectionate portrait of growing up in the vanished world of small town Alabama. Then she undermines her portrayal to reveal a rotten, rural underside filled with social lies, prejudice, and ignorance.

Structure and style

  • Use of irony and symbolism, the use of language appropriate to character and situation, and a carefully planned structure.
  • The order of events is chronological, apart from a mention in the first paragraph of the elbow Jem breaks in the climax.
  • The fundamental structure of the novel is a series of parallels and contrasts.
  • Incidents involving Burris and Walter foreshadow what their fathers do in the second part of the book
  • The courage displayed by Atticus, Mrs Maudie and Mrs Dubose prepare the children to cope with the trial.

Narrative style

  • Naïve narrator.
  • Language not limited to a six year old, the language is often an adult Scout looking back on the events of these years, Although the children’s dialogue remains authentic.
  • She is too young to be aware of all the complexities of adult world, so that many of the things she reports have meaning to the reader even though Scout does not understand them.
  • She has no comprehension of the complex web of sexual fears and racial prejudice that made so many white southerners recoil in horror at the very idea of sexual contact between a white woman and a black man.

Narrative style continued

  • What are the effects of seeing the trail through Scout’s eyes?
  • Emphasises the injustice of the trial, as seen through the innocent eyes of a young girl.
  • She offers no overt social criticism.
  • Her view of right and wrong is simple and not influenced by social prejudice.
  • The inability of the narrator to understand the injustice of Tom’s conviction reflects the enlightened outsider’s perception of justice being destroyed by prejudice.


  • The missionary circle’s concern for the distant Mrunas while the local Negroes are being badly treated.
  • Miss Gate’s concern about prejudice against the Jews in Nazi Germany. “Jem , how can you hate Hitler so bad, an’ then turn around and be ugly about folks right at home?”
  • Boo Radley believed to be a monster, eventually saves Scout and Jem from Bob.

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