|Studying To Kill a Mockingbird|
This guide is written for teachers and students who are studying Harper Lee's novel To Kill a Mockingbird. The guide is written specifically for students in the UK, but I hope it may be helpful to users from other parts of the world. To Kill a Mockingbird is a set text for GCSE exams in English literature. It may also be studied for teacher-assessed coursework in English in Key Stages 3 and 4 (GCSE reading).
About the novel
To Kill a Mockingbird was first published in 1960. It won the prestigious Pulitzer Prize and was adapted for the cinema, winning Oscars (Academy Awards) for the script and for Gregory Peck (best actor in a leading role), who played Atticus.
Harper Lee was born in Monroeville, Alabama, which may be the model for the fictional Maycomb. She has not written any more novels but her neighbour Truman Capote, has become one of the most distinguished of modern prose writers in the USA. Some people believe that he is the original for Dill in To Kill a Mockingbird.
Studying the text
There are many ways in which one can write about a literary text, but among those most commonly encountered at Key Stages 3 and 4 would be to study character, theme and technique. These terms are explained below, and some pointers given as to how to study them in To Kill a Mockingbird.
The questions below should help students and teachers find what is important in the novel, and could prove useful for revision. You can answer them on your own, but they are suitable for discussion work. Your answers to these questions (if you write them) could form a useful summary of the novel. A class of students could share this task, and paste the results together. If you do this, then try to be consistent in pronoun choices and verb tenses. Some teachers and examiners will use the past tense to refer to events in a work of fiction, but the convention for scholars and critics is to use the present tense.
Click on the link to go to questions on the chapter you have chosen.1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30 | 31
Activities for responding to the text
The activities listed below are intended to help you develop a good understanding of the novel. They are related to one or more chapters, as shown. Click on the link for activities on the chapters you have chosen:1 and 2 | 3 and 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 and 8 | 9 | 10 and 11 | 12 | 13 - 16 | 16 - 21 | 22 - 25 | 26 - 31
Chapters 1 and 2
In small groups or pairs, talk about your first day at primary or infant school. You could record this talk or use it as a starting point for a written account.
Chapters 3 and 4
Make a list of all the superstitions you remember from when you were young. Ask your friends and relatives to tell you the superstitions they used to believe. You could also explore superstitions in other books you have read (such as Tom Sawyer). You could talk or write about these.
Speak or write about a dare that went wrong. You should base this on a true account, though you may wish to change some details to make it more interesting.
Write out, as a script for a play, the conversation in which Mr. Nathan Radley tells his neighbours about his shooting at the intruder in his garden. Decide who says what, and try to give them speeches which are in character. Miss Stephanie Crawford, Miss Maudie Atkinson and Atticus should speak some lines. You may wish to include lines for Miss Rachel and Mr. Avery, also.
Chapters 7 and 8
Make a story (written or scripted for speaking) out of your recollection of any minor disaster (like a fire, or a flood, or some other domestic accident). Try to tell the story from a child's viewpoint. You may wish to alter things or exaggerate for dramatic or comic effects.
Defending Tom Robinson. Atticus says, We were licked a hundred years before we started Imagine that you are a young lawyer helping Atticus prepare his case. Make notes (a series of bullet points) of things that will help you defend Tom, and of things that the prosecution will use to try and convict him.
Chapters 10 and 11
Models of bravery. Atticus tries to explain what he thinks real bravery is. Think of real world examples - perhaps famous people or maybe someone less well-known - and explain why you think they are brave. This is best done as a spoken presentation to a group. You can follow it up with discussion.
Mixing with strangers. Speak or write about your experiences of meeting people whose way of life was different from your own - perhaps people from another country, or ethnic group, or people whose first language is not ther same as yours.
Chapters 13 to 16
Here we see how Atticus tries to protect his children from the ugly realities of adult life. Atticus did not want his children to be in court, but they manage to see most of the trial. Do you think that it was good or bad for them to be there? Discuss whether you think it right for young people to be able to witness criminal trials. (You can choose the age range for the discussion.) You could do this as a formal debate - whether young people at a given age should be allowed to attend criminal trials. You will need some speakers to propose and oppose the motion, and someone to chair the debate.
Chapters 16 to 21
Using the account of the trial in these chapters, make one or more new texts by adapting the original. Here are some suggestions:
Chapters 22 to 25
Mr. Underwood's editorial. We are given quite a lot of information about Mr. Underwood's editorial in the Maycomb Tribune, following Tom's death. For example, that he likened it to the senseless slaughter of songbirds by hunters and children. An editorial is a section in a newspaper which does not give news, but comments on it and interprets it. Using all the clues you can find, try to write the editorial as you think Mr. Underwood might have done.
Chapters 26 to 31
The secret diary of Arthur Radley. At the end of the novel we realize that Arthur (Boo) Radley has never stopped watching the children, and that he has foreseen the danger from Bob Ewell, which Atticus has not taken seriously. Imagine that Arthur keeps a diary, in which he writes about what he has seen and how he makes sure that the chidren are safe. We do not know what style Arthur would use, so you must choose one you think appropriate to what we know of him. Write a series of entries for such a diary, to cover the main events of the final chapters of the novel.
An outline of the novel
Use the table below to learn the structure of the novel - this shows you the main events in each chapter. Examiners will expect you to be able to write clearly where and when things happen - this table should help.
We can study what characters (note the spelling!) are like in themselves, but we see them best in their relations with other people and the wider society of which they are (or fail to be) a part.
Any statement about what characters are like should be backed up by evidence: quote what they say, or explain what they do (or both). Do not, however, merely retell narrative (the story) without comment. Statements of opinion should be followed by reference to events or use of quotation; quotation should be followed by explanation (if needed) and comment. This is rather mechanical, but if you do it, you will not go far wrong.
In this guide, general comments will often be made without supporting evidence (to save time). As you study or revise you should find and list this evidence. If you cannot find any, ask a teacher who knows this text. You should certainly, in any case, be making your own revision guides, and marking your copy of the book. If you are preparing this text for an examination, you may be allowed to underline key passages or to use bookmarks.
What people say about him
One way to begin looking at Atticus's character is to read what other people say about him or to him. Look at the things that Bob Ewell says, or Stephanie Crawford or consider the criticisms some people make of him. These may be mild and partly well-meant (like the things his sister, Alexandra, says) or harsher, like the things Mrs. Dubose says.
One character in the novel earns Scout's trust (and the reader's) by her clear sightedness and honesty. This is Miss Maudie Atkinson. Study these things she says about Atticus, and try to decide how far you agree with them, and, if you do, what they tell you:
He's the same in the courtroom as he is on the public streets Chapter 19
There are some men in the world who were born to do our unpleasant jobs for us. Your father's one of them Chapter 22
Did it ever strike you that Judge Taylor naming Atticus to defend that boy was no accident? Chapter 22
You may have to write about Atticus in assessed work. Below are some headings with suggested comments - you can use these to organize your writing. The order is not necessarily the best one for you, so feel free to rearrange them.
Atticus as a father
Atticus's lack of prejudice
Atticus's ideal of courage
Atticus's two errors
Atticus makes two errors of judgement:
What do these errors tell us about Atticus?
Atticus in his own words
What do you learn from the things Atticus says in the novel? You can make use of almost anything he says. Below are a few selected quotations from Atticus. In each case, you can see more of the quotation by clicking on the short extract. Use this as a way to learn things, if you need to:
Arthur Radley does not appear to Scout directly until the final chapters of the novel, but his presence is felt throughout the narrative. He is a silent witness of the children's actions. He is always vigilant and he sees the danger Atticus has overlooked when he saves the lives of Scout and Jem.
In the first chapter of the novel Scout considers the different starting points in a chain of events which form the plot of the novel. Jem maintains that "it began...when Dill first gave us the idea of making Boo Radley come out". What began then we do not fully learn until the end of the novel, though we will soon learn more about Boo - much of it misleading or inaccurate. At the end of the novel Scout summarizes the events Arthur has witnessed (and in which he has sometimes taken part), leading up to his emerging from confinement when the children's lives are in danger.
At the start of the novel the brief reference to Boo arouses the reader's interest. Scout learns more from a variety of sources. Most of this information comes from Jem, who has heard it, in turn, from Miss Stephanie Crawford - and she is known to exaggerate or invent things.
It seems that Arthur was not very successful at school (though he may have won a spelling medal). In his teens he joined with some of the Cunninghams in joyriding around Maycomb's square and locking an elderly official (Mr. Conner) in the court outhouse. While the other boys went to a state industrial school, Arthur was shut up at home by his parents. Fifteen years later Arthur, now aged thirty-three, attacked his father with a pair of scissors. His father ("the meanest man ever God blew breath into", according to Calpurnia) opposed sending him to a psychiatric hospital, and eventually took him home. When his father died, Arthur became the ward of his brother, Nathan Radley. Though less severe than his father, he still kept Arthur more or less imprisoned in the family home. By the time of the events in the novel it is no longer clear how far Arthur is forced to stay in, and how far this is his own wish.
What some people say about Arthur
To form your own idea of what Arthur is like you might consider what other people say about him, and decide how reliable their opinions are:
Boo in the first part of the novel
Scout tells the reader a lot about Boo in the early part of the novel, but he disappears from the narrative for most of the middle and later chapters, which are concerned with the story of the trial and its sequel.
Early in the story, the children try to persuade Boo to come out, but it seems that they miss the occasions when he does do this. Consider these clues:
Although Jem does not see Arthur on any of these occasions, he begins to understand what is happening. When Nathan Radley stops up the knot-hole, it is a fairly clear sign that he knows what Arthur has been doing and wants to stop it. And when Scout thinks she hears laughter from inside the Radley house, she finds this sinister - but the reader comes to see that this is the innocent laughter of Boo Radley, who is amused by the children at play.
Boo in the final chapters of the novel
Arthur's saving of the children's lives is presented in an unusual way. Scout sees nothing and Jem remembers nothing. She also does not recognize the stranger in her house until Atticus makes this clear to her. Arthur has taken a kitchen knife - the only weapon he can find, evidently - and stabbed Bob Ewell, as he attacks the children. Heck Tate works out what has happened, and conceals Bob Ewell's flick-knife, in order to maintain that the kitchen knife was Ewell's weapon, on which he fell. This means that Arthur will not have to face an inquest, or any further public exposure.
Although Arthur is shy, he forgets about himself while he attends to Jem's injury and takes him home. He does nothing to conceal what he has done to Bob Ewell. We see this shyness as he stands out of the light, as he hesitates before stroking Jem's hair, and as he speaks, in a whisper, only to ask Scout to see him home.
Boo as an outsider
Harper Lee explores a familiar theme in her depiction of Boo Radley - that of the misfit or outsider who is misunderstood. We see this in Beauty and the Beast (with a happy ending) or the Hunchback of Notre Dame (with a tragic ending). It is common in modern feature films, such as The Elephant Man, Edward Scissorhands or Babe. This portrayal is notable for the way in which the author presents Arthur Radley sensitively and with dignity.
And finally, it is only when she literally stands in a new position, on the Radley porch, that Scout understands Atticus's earlier remark (Chapter 3) about the need to put yourself in another person's place ("...climb into his skin and walk around in it") before you can really know him or her.
The mockingbird theme
The title of the novel alerts us to the importance of this theme. It comes from an old proverb that it's a sin to kill a mockingbird. The children first hear this from Atticus, when he gives them air rifles as Christmas presents (Chapter 10). He tells them they should shoot only at tin-cans but, seeing that they may well shoot birds, allows them to shoot the very common bluejay (regarded in the USA rather as pigeons are in the UK) but not mockingbirds. (Modern readers, especially in the UK, where many bird species are protected by law should note that hunting birds is considered acceptable sport in most parts of Europe and the USA even today. In the 1930s most children would have seen it as normal to hunt animals and birds.)
Scout is puzzled by this remark and asks Miss Maudie Atkinson about it. Miss Maudie says that:
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.
In the novel, while we associate the mockingbird generally with weak and defenceless people, there are two characters who are more explicitly likened to the bird. These are Tom Robinson and Arthur Radley. Why are these two like the mockingbird?
The author makes the comparison clearer in Chapter 25. Here, B.B. Underwood spells is out for his readers, writing in his editorial that it:
...was a sin to kill cripples, be they standing, sitting or escaping. He likened Tom's death to the senseless slaughter of songbirds by hunters and chidren...
Scout notes that Mr. Underwood was writing so children could understand. She is a child and she understands. Many of the novel's readers will also be children. (You should be aware, though, that it was written for adult readers. Harper Lee could not have foreseen that the novel would become a set text for pupils in so many schools.)
As the children set off for the pageant (Chapter 28), Jem hears a mockingbird and jokes that Boo must not be at home. There is an obvious irony in that he is very wrong in associating Boo with haints and hot steams but is right in his joking suggestion that Boo is not at home. Not only is Boo out of doors (or just about to leave) but his doing so is what delivers the children from real and very human danger, not the gothic fantasies of Halloween. But there are more odd pointers:
When Heck Tate (Chapter 30) tells Atticus that he will not let Boo be exposed to publicity, he insists that ...draggin' him and his shy ways into the limelight... is ...a sin. It's a sin and I'm not about to have it on my head...
Scout shows that she understands Mr. Tate completely, when she says:
Well, it'd be sort of like shootin' a mockingbird, wouldn't it?
Atticus embraces Scout, to acknowledge that she is right.
Harper Lee's technique
The story is told from Scout's viewpoint. It is written in the first person. This means that Scout uses the pronouns I, me and the possessives my, mine to refer to herself. She does not confine the narrative to things that she has directly experienced - for example she recounts stories from the history of Simon Finch, and repeats what other people tell her.
As the narrator she makes comments about how reliable other people's accounts are - so we allow for any distortion or exaggeration, as appropriate (Miss Stephanie, for example, is likely to exaggerate.) The events of the novel take place over several years, and Scout indicates the changes that she and Jem experience in this time. One example is that she begins as a tomboy but later in the novel accepts the need to behave in a more conventionally feminine role. She also learns, mostly from Miss Maudie, that this does not mean she has to give up her independence - that she can compromise in unimportant matters without betraying what she really values.
We do, however, see other viewpoints as people speak, so it is possible for the reader to compare them. The novel gives a huge range of such opinions, too many to list here. Sometimes these are predictable and conventional (the spoiled and over delicate ladies of the Missionary circle) while at other times they are quite unconventional (think of Mr. Dolphus Raymond). Some questions to consider are these:
Scout is four years younger than Jem, (who is nearly thirteen when he is attacked by Bob Ewell) so she is at most eight at the time when she attends Tom Robinson's trial. In her account of Mayella's testimony Scout refers to a Mr. Jingle in a book she had been reading. This is Dickens' The Pickwick Papers - it may be hard for modern readers in the UK to believe that an eight-year old would not only read a novel by Dickens, but also make such a comparison, yet not recall the title of the novel.
The novel is highly dramatic. This does not mean that it is full of sensational or extreme situations, but that it has some of the qualities of a play - which also explains why it was successfully adapted for cinema.
Much of the text is in the form of dialogue - conversation recorded as direct speech. Even when Scout uses indirect (reported) speech, she makes sure she includes distinctive vocabulary that tells you about the character and attitude of the speaker.
One simple example to illustrate this, would be to look at modes of address. Jem typically addresses Atticus as sir (in Chapter 4, Atticus insists on this). Atticus addresses Mayella as "Miss Mayella". Bob Ewell addresses Mr. Gilmer, in court, as cap'n, which shows how he misjudges the seriousness of the situation.
There are long passages of dialogue in a variety of contexts. We have the formal proceedings in the trial of Tom Robinson, conspiratorial conversations among Scout, Jem and Dill, casual conversation with neighbours and the various occasions where Scout sits alone with Miss Maudie or Atticus. There are the set pieces at Scout's school - lessons with Miss Caroline and Miss Gates, and situations where Scout is a silent observer - for example, of the missionary ladies.
Standard and non-standard language
To Kill a Mockingbird is a conventional literary novel. This means, among other things that it:
The narrative contains some distinctively American lexis (vocabulary) so, to take one chapter (11) as a random example, we find sassiest, mutts and playing hooky. But the USA is a vast country, and Harper Lee makes use of many regional expressions, local to the southern (former Confederate) states or to Alabama more specifically, like cootie, haint, scuppernongs and whistled bob-white. In some cases you will find a form which is standard in both UK and US English, but with a different meaning. So when Jem leaves his pants (trousers) on the Radley fence, this is not as alarming as it might seem to English readers. On the other hand, when he stands in his shorts (underpants or boxer shorts) before God and everybody, this is perhaps more alarming.
In the account of the visit to First Purchase, Scout records the distinctive speech of the coloured people - noting with particular interest the way Calpurnia switches into this non-standard variety.
A long episodic novel can easily lose its way, but Harper Lee has a very organic sense of a single story with a unifying or central theme (the mockingbird theme) which is illustrated by the examples of Arthur Radley and Tom Robinson.
How many readers recall, by the end of the novel, the first sentence (When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow)? This statement is soon forgotten, amidst a mass of narrative detail, but this incident, which Scout does not see and Jem cannot recall, is the defining moment or climax of the entire story.
The first part of the novel is an account of Scout's early years, taking her first days at school as a starting point. Most of this section is about the search for Arthur Boo Radley. The second part shows Scout becoming more able to understand the adult world, which is mirrored by the more serious events that occur at this point in her life.
In the conclusion, however, Harper Lee brings the two narratives together - the stories are not separate. While Scout and Jem have been thinking more about the trial and less about Boo Radley, Arthur has not forgotten them. His appearance in the final chapters is almost miraculous - it is plausible (believable in its context) because it is so understated. There is no direct account of Arthur Radley's attack on Bob Ewell. It is inferred from the sounds Scout hears and what Heck Tate discovers at the scene.
For a more detailed account of what happens in each chapter, use the Outline of the Novel above.
To Kill a Mockingbird sets out to challenge some stereotypes but it may also reinforce some alternative stereotypes. One common criticism of the novel is that the black characters are idealized. Lula is an exception, objecting to the appearance at First Purchase of the Finch children.
Harper Lee attacks the stereotype of the promiscuous and sexually voracious black man, but she endorses the stereotype of "White trash", in the Ewell family. In the USA there are many people who disapprove of dependency on the state, and on welfare payments - both the poor Cunninghams and the wealthy (but emotionally poor) Radleys are proud of their self-reliance.
The stereotype of aristocratic white women is held up to ridicule - their virtue is seen as excessive delicacy, and they appear as selfish and hypocritical. Scout wants to be like a boy, because she likes to be active. In general, the novel depicts men more favourably - or perhaps it shows that men may commit worse actions but women are more spiteful in what they say. Perhaps only a woman can be so tough in depicting her own sex (in this respect, Harper Lee writes rather in the manner of Jane Austen).
In a novel with a huge cast of characters, there is no reason to avoid using stereotypes in every case. There are plenty of characters, from Atticus to Dolphus Raymond, from Miss Maudie to Boo Radley, who do not conform to any stereotype.
Attitudes in the text
In this story, we see a huge range of attitudes displayed by different characters. Can you find examples of some things that each of these thinks or believes. Select any of the following, and try to summarize his or her beliefs and outlook:
Attitudes behind the text
If you study the text closely, you may have a sense of assumptions the author makes about the world, or of an outlook on life, which affects the way, she tells the story.
What are these attitudes or assumptions? If you find this question hard to answer, try this test. With which of the following statements do you agree or disagree? Harper Lee
Arrange these statements in order of probability. The first one should be the one you think most likely to be true. Give reasons for your view. At the end will be the statements you think least likely to be true. And in the middle may be some about which you lack the information to make up your mind.
Attitudes in the reader
As you read this story, how far do you think the author has understood what you like to read? You may be surprised to find that the story was written for adult readers. Can you find anything in the text that suggests this?
Harper Lee writes both for children and grown-up readers. To Kill a Mockingbird is not grown-up in the sense of being full of sex scenes, swearing and violence. But it may be hard for some readers, with sophisticated vocabulary and references. The teachers and examiners who chose the texts for the NEAB/AQA Anthology decided that To Kill a Mockingbird is suitable for younger readers. Do you think it is a good text for young people? Give reasons.
As you read this story, how conscious are you of the author? What are her purposes, in your view?
Is this story written to entertain, to earn money, to warn, to frighten, to teach, to amuse, none of these, all of these? What do you think is the author's reason for writing?
This story is full of comparisons and contrasts. Here are some examples:
If you think this list is missing something, then add it. Choose the five most important areas of comparison or contrast and explain how they work.
This story is full of implied meanings - things that are suggested but never spelled out. It is always rather ambiguous, and it is possible to miss much of what is going on. You can find examples in almost any chapter you study. Here are a few suggestions, to get you started.
Readers and readings
Reading the text
Say what you think the story means in a literal sense and in terms of theme, character and setting. Look at details of imagery, language and symbolism.
Reading the author
Try to explain what, in your view, the author wants us to think at various points. In doing this you should refer to her narrative methods.
Reading the reading
Be prepared briefly to explain your own understanding of the story, and how this changes while you are reading it for the first time, and also on subsequent readings, where you notice more.
A note on the N-word
Depicting racism through dialogue
The novel is set in the 1930s but was written in the late 1950s (published in 1960). The dialogue is marked by frequent use of the word "nigger". This is a convenient way to indicate to the reader the racist attitudes of various characters. When she wishes to refer to African-Americans, Harper Lee uses the term "coloured". It is not only racist whites who say this, however - at First Purchase church, Calpurnia addresses Lula as nigger.
Since the novel was published, attitudes have changed in the USA and the UK about what is acceptable to speak and write. In the trial of O.J. Simpson, the word "nigger" was considered too offensive to repeat in court, and was described as the "N-word".
If you are a student writing about To Kill a Mockingbird, you may need at some points to quote others, for example those who call Atticus a "nigger-lover". Use quotation marks to show that it is someone else's words that you are writing.
Black nigger and white nigger
Curiously the novel contains both of these phrases. Most speakers (racist or not) would assume that "nigger", as well as expressing racial hatred or prejudice, identified someone as black. Yet Bob Ewell manages to show the extremity of his hate as well (arguably) as his own lack of intelligence when he says, of Tom Robinson, "I seen that black nigger yonder ruttin' on my Mayella" (Chapter 17). This causes uproar in the court for five minutes, after which Judge Taylor instructs Bob Ewell to keep his testimony "within the confines of Christian English usage, if that is possible". The qualification ("if that is possible") is an implied criticism of Bob Ewell's impoverished vocabulary. It is not always true that people who swear or use racist language do so because they are not able to express themselves in other ways, but in Bob Ewell's case it may be true. For the reader, this phrase "black nigger" may be shocking, but necessary to show that in a town of racists, Bob Ewell goes even further than the worst of all the others.
The "white nigger" is Jem. Mr. Nathan Radley (Chapter 6) is not, like Bob Ewell, giving vent to his hatred, but rather showing his prejudice in stereotyping all intruders as black people. He clearly knows that Jem has been in his garden, and he has fired over his head to scare him off. He relies on Miss Stephanie, the Maycomb gossip, to pass on his message that he "scared him pale" and if anyone "sees a white nigger around, that's the one".
Harper Lee leaves the question open as to which is worse - the cool institutional racism of Maycomb, which Nathan Radley typifies, or the extreme emotional racism of individuals like Bob Ewell. The novel challenges both of these attitudes, but it is really the ordinary people of Maycomb who seal Tom Robinson's fate. Bob Ewell does their dirty work for them, but is mistaken in thinking that he will gain any personal standing from it: "He thought he'd be a hero but all he got for his pain was...okay, we''ll convict this Negro but get back to your dump" says Atticus.
Some users of this site have suggested a different reading - that Mr. Radley does not know the intruder is Jem, and that he uses the phrase “white-nigger” because he is joking about having scared the colour out of this unknown black person. (This reading expresses even more strongly Mr. Radley's assumption that intruders are always black people.) This is how Holly James, a teacher from Bogalusa High School in Lousiana puts it:
“As a lifelong Southerner, I do not feel that there was a dual representation of white and black niggers in the book. When Ewell refers to Tom as that 'black nigger' he is being redundant but with emphasis. It may be verbally ironic that someone as low on the human chain as Ewell is calling Tom these names, but I assure you it is used in exactly those terms even today. I also do not agree that Mr. Radley knew that it was Jem in his garden. On the contrary, he assumed that it was a black and that he had scared the color out of him. It was a very derogatory remark, and again, one that I have heard many times in Louisiana where I live.”
Specimen exam questions
The questions below are taken from recent GCSE examination papers for English literature.
Foundation tier - example question 1
How does Harper Lee bring out different aspects of Atticus?
Foundation tier - example question 2
Jem changes in the course of the novel. How does Harper Lee show this?
Higher tier - example question 1
How does Harper Lee use minor characters in To Kill a Mockingbird to explore some of the main concerns of the novel?
Choose three of the following: Mrs. Dubose; Mayella Ewell; Heck Tate; Dolphus Raymond; Tim Johnson; Grace Merriweather; Miss Caroline; Lula
Higher tier - example question 2
Jem, Scout and Dill are all young people who learn from people and events around them.
How does Harper Lee show them learning and developing?
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