To Kill a Mockingbird Critical Thinking Questions

Here’s the quiz I gave to my I/II kids on Friday.

Only 5 of my 13 kids answered both questions – and one of them didn’t answer any (and don’t even ASK about the vocabulary, because I’m too pissed off to give you a coherent answer).  I’m on the fence about what to do about it, though.  I’m leaning toward letting them take part of tomorrow’s class to write the second essay for partial credit (and giving the kids who did the work the first time either an opportunity to revise their essays or giving them that part of the period off), but I’m not sure that I want to start that kind of precedent.  Any advice you care to toss my way would be appreciated.

To Kill a Mockingbird Quiz

Choose TWO questions.  Outline then compose a five-paragraph essay for each in which you address the question as completely as you can; use evidence from the book (be sure to cite chapter and page numbers) to support your claims.

• Analyze chapter 11, in which Jem is compelled to read to Mrs. Dubose.  What happens in that scene, and why is it important enough to the larger story that Harper Lee spends an entire chapter on it?  What does Atticus want Jem and Scout to learn from the experience, and how does that lesson relate to what he wants them to know before the trial begins?

• In chapter 16, Scout learns that Atticus was assigned the job of defending Tom Robinson.  She says that “this was news, news that put a different light on things: Atticus had to, whether he wanted to or not.  I thought it odd that he hadn’t said anything to us about it – we could have used it many times in defending him and ourselves.”  Discuss why Atticus never mentioned that he was compelled to defend Tom Robinson, and consider why that information didn’t seem to change the town’s attitude about the matter.

• In chapters 17 and 18, Bob and Mayella Ewell testify in court.  What do we learn about them from the things they say and the way they behave on the stand?  Consider the way people’s worth is measured in Maycomb, and how different people are classified and considered.  Do you think that the Ewells fit the idea that people have of them?

• Analyze chapter 24, in which the Ladies’ Club comes to the Finch household for their luncheon.  What does the talk of the different ladies reveal about their attitude concerning “the other,”” people whom they consider to be different from themselves.  Why is it so significant that the women think the way they do?  What does Miss Maudie’s behavior at the luncheon tell us?  What about the women and their talk reveal how stereotypes and discrimination are perpetuated?  How does this fit with Scout’s assertion that there’s only one kind of “folks”?

• As the trial progresses, the children’s attention is focused away from Boo Radley, but at the end of chapter 24, Jem begins to consider that perhaps Boo’s reclusive behavior isn’t so strange after all.  Consider how the children’s perspective changes over the course of that summer, and how they begin to see their father, their community, and themselves differently.

Vocabulary:  define each word, identify the part of speech (noun, verb, etc.) then use it in a sentence.

* adamant        * sordid        *apoplectic

* auspicious        *succinct        *brevity



Filed under concerns, critical thinking, failure, frustrations, General Griping, I love my job, lesson planning, Literature, reading, Teaching, Yikes!, You're kidding...right?

4 responses to “To Kill a Mockingbird Critical Thinking Questions

  1. Improbable Joe

    No! Don’t get soft now! That’s what they’re waiting for! If you give them a break now, you lose all moral authority: the rules aren’t REALLY the rules, they are negotiable.

  2. Anonymous

    what would the second bullet point answer be?

  3. Anonymous, I think the short answer is that Atticus never mentioned it because it didn’t MATTER to him; he would have done it whether he were compelled to or not.

    The reason this bit of information wouldn’t have affected the way much of the town thought about the situation can be summed up in Miss Maudie’s assessment that Atticus is one of “some men in this world who were born to do our unpleasant jobs for us…We’re so rarely called on to be Christians, but when we are, we’ve got men like Atticus to go for us.” Atticus is the man the entire town looks upon to be the good in them.”

    Did I just do your homework for you?

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