Students in my Lit 2 Class an essay due on October 15th on To Kill a Mockingbird. Essays should be double spaced, 2-3 pages long. Choose one of the following questions to analyze.
1. Analyze the childhood world of Jem, Scout, and Dill and their relationship with Boo Radley in Part One.
2. How do Jem and Scout change during the course of the novel? How do they remain the same?
3. What is Atticus’s relationship to the rest of Maycomb? What is his role in the community?
4. Discuss the role of family in To Kill a Mockingbird, paying close attention to Aunt Alexandra.
5. Examine Miss Maudie’s relationship to the Finches and to the rest of Maycomb.
6. Discuss the author’s descriptions of Maycomb. What is the town’s role in the novel?
7. Analyze the author’s treatment of Boo Radley. What is his role in the novel?
8. Discuss the notions of Justice and Fairness.
9. Discuss the various forms of discrimination in the book. Expand your discussion beyond the racial discrimination.
This post is for one of my literature classes. We are reading To Kill a Mockingbird.
To Kill a Mockingbird was published in 1960 and was an immediate success, winning the Pulitzer Prize in 1961. Since it’s publication it has never been out of print and has consistently been named one of the best books ever written. In fact, British Librarians listed it as the book every person should read before they die… leaving the Bible to come in at second place. Two years after the book was published it was made into a motion picture with Gregory Peck in the starring role. The movie won three Academy Awards.
Oddly, this is the only book Harper Lee ever published. After it’s success she retreated from the public eye and is rarely seen or heard from. There are only a handful of interviews that have been given by the elusive author. She had expected that the book would not be popular, and her publicist had told her they didn’t expect the book would ever sell more than a few thousand copies due to it’s subject matter. Instead, the book has become a staple on high school and college reading lists, and Atticus Finch has become a modern day role model and hero to many.
The novel is set in a small, tired, Southern town, very like the one that Harper Lee grew up in. Although she has admitted to pulling from some of her childhood experiences, Lee has tried to downplay the connections saying the people and the town she described could have been anywhere…that people are people everywhere and that each town probably had similar characters.
What we do know is that Scout’s life parallels Harper Lee’s in some fairly obvious ways. Her father served in the State legislature and was an attorney. In 1919, he defended two black men accused of murder. After they were convicted, hanged, and mutilated, he never tried another criminal case. Like Scout, Lee also had a brother four years older than herself, a black maid who cared for the family during the day, and she had gone to the town courthouse to watch her father argue cases. Harper Lee’s next door neighbor was the author Truman Capote (author of In Cold Blood, Breakfast at Tiffany’s and many other works) and he was the inspiration for the character of Dill. Capote reported that he had also used Lee as the model for a character in one of his first books. The two, Lee and Capote, would remain friends for the rest of their lives and she would help him with his research. Down the street from Lee and Capote was an old boarded up house which served as the model for Boo Radley’s house. In real life a family lived there and the son had some legal troubles. Out of shame the boy’s father kept him shut away in the house for 24 years, until his death in 1952. Obviously, there are parallels to the Boo Radley character. (more…)