To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Reading Study Guide
The following questions are to be answered after each chapter has been read in preparation for class discussion. Please feel free to write down any other questions or insights you have. Your input and opinions are very valuable to our class discussion of the novel.
Describe the setting of the story.
Discuss the point of view of the novel. Describe the relationship between the narrator and her brother Jem and their father.
Who is Dill?
When the "routine" of Jem, Scout, and Dill Ďs summer becomes tiresome, what idea does Dill have?
How had Mr. Radley seen to it that his younger son Arthur (Boo) caused "no further trouble" in Maycomb?
After Mr. Radley died, what changes occurred at the Radley Place?
What dare of Dillís does Jem finally accept?
Scout says that her father Atticus was related to almost every family in town. In addition, she states that the Radleys, unlike other residents, kept to themselves. What conclusions can you draw about the people of Maycomb from these comments? Would you have liked to live in Maycomb? Explain.
Chapters 2 and 3
When Jem takes Scout to school for her first day, what "order" does he give her?
What two things does Miss Caroline tell Scout that Atticus is not to do anymore?
When Scout tries to spare Walter Cunningham any further humiliation, what does Miss Caroline do to her?
After Calpurnia makes Scout leave the table, what "lecture" does she give Scout?
How does Scout describe Burris Ewellís physical appearance? How does Little Charles Little describe Burrisís personality?
What is Scoutís assessment of her first day of school, and what is her plan?
After Scout begs Atticus not to make her return to school, what advice does he give her for getting along with people? What is your reaction to this advice?
Chapters 4 and 5
Explain why Scout goes back to the Radley Place one afternoon.
What is the neighborhoodís opinion of Mrs. Dubose?
What does Jem say about the "Indian-heads" they find in the knothole of the tree?
What "game" do Jem, Scout, and Dill play?
After Atticus catches the children with scissors, what is Jemís reaction? What is Scoutís?
Explain why Scout becomes annoyed with Dill.
What is Jem and Dillís plan to contact Boo Radley?
What order does Atticus give the children regarding Boo?
Miss Maudie tells Scout that "Mr. Radley is a foot-washing Baptist" and goes on to say that some men worry so much "about the next world" they never learned to "live in this one." What is Maudie suggesting about Mr. Radley and his treatment of Boo?
Chapters 6 and 7
Why do Dill, Jem and Scout run from the Radley Place?
How does Dill explain Jemís missing pants?
What, according to Scout, causes Jem and her to part company?
Summarize Scoutís assessment of second grade.
What does Jem finally tell Scout about his pants that he retrieved?
What do Jem and Scout realize about the carved soap figures they find in the knothole?
When Jem and Scout find the knothole filled with cement, what explanation does Nathan Radley give? What does Atticus tell Jem about the tree?
The evening after Jem and Scout find the knothole filled with cement, Scout discovers that Jem, who had ordered her not to cry, had been crying himself. Why do you think Jem is upset?
Describe how Jem constructs his "snowman." What compliment does Atticus pay Jem?
What does Atticus criticize Jem for?
Why does Atticus wake the children in the middle of the night?
What is Scout wearing? How does Atticus explain the presence of what Scout is wearing?
Describe Scoutís reaction to the news she receives.
What is Miss Maudieís reaction to the loss of her house?
Recall the "crimes" the townspeople have attributed to Boo. How do you explain the disparity between Booís act of kindness toward Scout and the stories of the townspeople?
Why does Scout forget what Atticus told her about fighting?
What does Atticus tell Scout to do when she hears "ugly talk" at school?
What comparison does Scout use to describe her relationship with her Aunt Alexandra?
Explain Scoutís reasoning behind her "cussing fluently."
Why does Scout fight Francis?
What does Scout make her Uncle Jack promise not to tell Atticus the truth about?
Atticus tells Jack he hopes his children get through Tom Robinsonís trial without bitterness and without "catching Maycombís disease." What is Atticus referring to? What is Maycombís disease?
Explain why Scout is so upset over Atticus being "so old."
Atticus tells the children theyíre not to kill mockingbirds because doing so is a sin. How does Miss Maudie explain Atticusís reasoning to Scout?
Why does the sheriff ask Atticus to shoot Tim Johnson?
What explanation does Miss Maudie offer for "Olí One-Shot" (Atticus) putting his gun down thirty years ago?
What does Jem tell Scout to do about their fatherís shooting of the dog?
In this chapter, it is explained that it is a sin to kill a mockingbird because they donít do anything harmful; they simply sing their hearts out. Comment on this idea. Although it is expressed simply, is there more to this statement than simply the idea that harmless creatures shouldnít be killed? How do you think the statement might apply to the novel thus far? Discuss.
What does Atticus do that causes Scout to say she felt that he was the "bravest man who ever lived?
What does Jem do to Mrs. Duboseís camellia bushes? Explain why he does this.
What does Mrs. Dubose want from Jem as payment for his "crime?"
What change had occurred in Mrs. Dubose by the last week Scout and Jem went to her home?
How does Atticus explain "courage" to Jem?
List the three things that are perplexing Scout at the beginning of the summer.
Explain what Scout finds unusual about Calpurniaís manner of speaking at the Black American church.
Why does the Reverend Sykes order the doors of the church shut?
Why does the congregation sing the hymns by "lining"?
Who is sitting on the Finchesí front porch?
Cal tells Scout that it isnít necessary to tell all one knows and that folks are aggravated by having someone around who knows more than they do. Do you agree or disagree with Calís view? Why might she have said this?
Chapters 13 and 14
How does Atticus explain Aunt Alexandraís arrival?
What does Aunt Alexandra request that Atticus try to convey to the children?
Explain why Scout cries.
What does Atticus tell the children to do concerning the conversation about family pride?
How does Atticus respond to Alexandraís suggestion that they donít need Cal anymore?
What does Scout say she had never heard of or seen before, and how does it make her feel?
How does Atticus deal with Scoutís question about whether she has to mind Jem?
What question does Scout ask Dill about Boo Radley? What is Dillís response?
Even though Dill gets permission to stay in Maycomb, why does Scout say their peace ended after a week?
Describe Dillís latest plan to get Boo Radley to come out.
When Jem asks Atticus if the men who came to the house were a "gang," what is Atticusís response?
What does Jem tell Scout he fears?
After Atticus leaves the house late at night, where do the children find him? What is he doing?
Explain why the men have come to the jail.
After Scout talks to Mr. Cunningham about Walter and the entailment of his farm, what does he do?
What had Mr. Underwood been doing?
When he is asked whether he can get a change of venue for Tom Robinson-that is, a change in the location of the trial-the sheriff says, "Not much point in that, now is it?" What is the sheriff implying?
What connection does Scout make that causes her to cry?
What subtle change does Scout notice in Atticus?
How does Atticus explain "mobs" to the children?
What is Miss Maudieís reaction to everyone wanting to go to the trial?
What news does Scout overhear about Atticusís defending Tom Robinson? Does it give her any comfort?
With whom do the children sit in the courtroom?
Atticus comments that it took an eight year old, Scout, to bring the lynch mob to its senses. He goes on to ponder the possibility of a "police force of children." What does Atticus mean? What is his line of reasoning? Consider Scoutís efforts to communicate with Mr. Cunningham. What can children sometimes do that adults canít?
Chapters 17 and 18
What question does Atticus ask the sheriff three times?
What does Atticus lead Sheriff Tate to remember about Mayella Ewellís black eye?
Explain why Jem tells Reverend Sykes that itís okay for Scout to stay in the courtroom.
What excuse does Mr. Ewell give for not running after Tom Robinson?
Explain what Atticus is attempting to show by asking Mr. Ewell to write something.
Why does Mayella think Atticus is mocking her?
What is Mayellaís response to Atticusís questions about her having friends?
Explain why Atticus has Tom Robinson stand up.
Chapters 19 and 20
According to Tom, where had Mayellaís brothers and sisters gone on the evening in question?
Identify what Tom says Mayella did to him while he was (1) standing on the chair; (2) after he got off the chair; and (3) afterward.
When Atticus asks Tom why he ran, what is his reply?
What mistake does Tom make when Mr. Gilmer is asking him to explain why he helped Mayella?
What explanation does Dill give Scout for his becoming sick?
How does Mr. Raymond explain his pretense about drinking?
When Scout and Dill return to the courtroom, what prediction does Jem make?
What, according to Atticus, is the one thing in the country that truly makes everyone equal?
Chapter 21 and 22
What does Jem think when Atticus calls them from the balcony?
Describe Calís reaction to the children having been at the trial. What is Alexandraís reaction?
What is Reverend Sykesís response to Jemís certainty the jury will find Tom innocent?
When the jury returns, what does Scout observe about them?
What is Atticusís response to Alexandraís attempt to say the children shouldnít have witnessed the trial?
What is Atticusís response to Jemís question about how the jury could have convicted Tom?
What causes Atticusís eyes to fill with tears?
What does Miss Maudie say about Atticusís ability to have kept the jury out for so long?
What had Bob Ewell done to Atticus?
Scout notices Miss Maudie has made only two little cakes instead of three. When Miss Maudie cuts a piece for Jem from the big cake, she says they understood. What does Miss Maudieís action signify?
1. What had Atticus told Jem about having a gun around?
- What is Atticusís conclusion about Bob Ewellís behavior that morning?
- Explain what will happen to Tom if he loses his appeal.
- When Jem suggests juries should be done away with, what does Atticus suggest should be done instead?
- How does Atticus explain the fact that women canít serve on juries in Alabama?
- How does Atticus explain his decision to have allowed Mr. Cunningham to sit on the jury?
- What is Aunt Alexandraís decision about Walter Cunningham? What is her reasoning?
- What conclusion does Jem come to about Boo Radley?
- Jem poses some questions at the end of the chapter: "If thereís just one kind of folks, why canít they get along with each other? If theyíre all alike, why do they go out of their way to despise each other?" How would you answer Jemís questions?
10. Atticus explains that Tom Robinson has a good chance of winning his appeal. Based on what you think of the people in Maycomb, what do you think?
After the discussion of the Mrunas, what do the ladies of the missionary society do?
What is Miss Stephanieís advice to Scout about becoming a lady?
What does Mrs. Merriweather say the cooks and field hands did after the trial? Why?
What does Mrs. Merriweather say she told "her" Sophy?
Describe Mrs. Merriweatherís view of Northerners. Why does she hold this view? What is ironic about Mrs. Merriweatherís statements and actions? What do you think of her character?
What news does Atticus bring about Tom Robinson?
How does Atticus explain what Tom did?
What is Scoutís assessment of Jemís changed behavior after he wonít let her kill the roly-poly?
Why is Maycomb only interested in the news about Tomís death for two days?
What does Mr. Underwood say in his editorial?
What conclusion does Scout come to about Tom after reading Mr. Underwoodís article?
What comment had Bob Ewell made about Tomís death?
What does Scout think or dream about?
What historical figure does Miss Gates condemn? Why does her condemnation confuse Scout?
Why does Bob Ewell lose his WPA job? Whom does he blame?
Why does Judge Taylor have a shotgun in his lap when his wife comes home from church?
Why was Helen Robinson walking a mile out of her way to get to her job?
Describe how Atticus explains Bob Ewellís dislike of John Taylor.
What are the discomforts of Scoutís "ham" costume she is to wear in the Halloween pageant?
Because Tom was crippled, Mr. Underwood compares his death "to the senseless slaughter of songbirds by hunters and children." Do you agree with Mr. Underwood? Is Mr. Underwood implying that Tomís death would have been justifiable if he hadnít been crippled? Recall Atticusís admonition to his children not to kill mockingbirds and Miss Maudieís explanation of why it was a sin. Was Tom, as Mr. Underwood implies, "a mockingbird"? Explain. Was killing him a "sin?" Was convicting him a "siní?
As Scout and Jem walk towards the school, what happens to them?
After Jem tries to comfort Scout for coming on stage at the wrong time, what does Scout realize about him?
When Jem hears someone following him and Scout, who does he conclude it is?
How does Scout know the body she touches with her toes is not Jemís?
When Scout reaches the street, what does she see in the light?
What, according to Dr. Reynolds, is Jemís condition?
7. Who is in Jemís room besides Scout, Atticus, and Alexandra?
What news does Sheriff Tate give Atticus?
Why hadnít Atticus or any of the neighbors heard the children yelling?
What conclusion does Sheriff Tate come to about Scoutís costume?
According to the sheriff, what kind of man was Bob Ewell?
4. When Scout points to the man who saved Jem and looks at him closely, what does she realize? What does she do and say?
5. Why does Atticus suggest they go to the porch instead of the livingroom? Why does Scout seat Boo in a chair in deep shadow?
6. Who does Atticus think killed Bob Ewell?
7. What does Sheriff Tate say about Bob Ewellís death?
8. When Atticus continues to argue with the sheriff about protecting Jem, what does the sheriff yell?
What does the sheriff say the townspeople, including his wife, would do if they knew the truth about who killed Bob Ewell? What does the sheriff say would be a sin?
What is Scoutís response when Atticus asks her if she can understand that "Mr. Ewell fell on his own knife"?
As Scout tells Atticus the story of The Gray Ghost, what does she say about Stonerís Boy? What is Atticusís response?
Scout states that Boo Radley, their neighbor, had given them many things, including their lives. Scout is sad that she and Jem had not been a neighbor to Boo, that they had given him nothing in return. Is Scoutís assessment accurate? Explain.
In essence, Sheriff Tate "covers up" the murder of Bob Ewell by saying it was an accident. Was the sheriff right to do so? Explain.
As Scout returns home after leaving the Radley Place, she comments that she didnít think she and Jem had much left to learn but algebra. What has Scout learned from the episodes she recounts? What have you learned from having read about Scoutís experiences?