For Teachers and Students (3): To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee)

mockingbirdcover.jpgComprehension / Discussion Questions for Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird (*)

1. To Kill A Mockingbird takes place in the 1930s in the USA and Harper Lee wrote the novel in the second half of the 1950s. Make a list of important events in both periods in the USA and examine if there is any overlapping of the events in the novel.

2. The novel takes place in a town called Maycomb. To what extent and in what ways could this town represent American society?

3. Why do you think Harper Lee chose a child as the narrator for her novel? What impact could this have on the readers?

4. Discuss the title of the novel in relation to the children (Jem, Scout, Dill) and Boo Radley.

5. Comment on how the relationship between Jem and Scout changes throughout the novel.

6. What does Atticus represent in the novel? What does his name signify? Comment on his perspectives on social class and race.

7. Examine and discuss the relationship between Atticus and his children.

8. In what ways are Atticus and Aunt Alexandra different from each other? Give examples.

9. Comment on how Aunt Alexandra is different from Misss Maudie.

10. What does Calpurnia represent in the story? Comment on how Scout, Jem and Atticus treat her.

11. What do Robert Ewell and his family represent in the novel? Why do you think Maycomb society takes side with Robert Ewell and Mayella although they do not trust them?

12. Discuss the social and psychological reasons for Mayella’s accusation against Tom.

13. Compare and contrast the Ewells, the Cunninghams and the Finches.

14. What could the sitting arrangements in the court tell us about race relations in the USA at that time?

15. What do you think about the way Harper Lee represents blacks in her novel? Are there things you would like to change if you were to rewrite the novel?

16. In what ways does the novel criticize the legal and educational systems?

17. Would you call the novel pessimistic or optimistic? Explain your reasons.

18. Make a list of the major themes in the novel. To what extent could these themes help make Lee’s novel universal?

(*) Winner of the Pulitzer Prize

© Ali Nihat Eken, İstanbul, 2007

Book cover: HarperCollins

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