1.) Show the growth and maturity of Jem from the beginning of the novel
till its end.
2.) Describe the details of the Tom Robinson trial.
3.) Elucidate on Harper Lee’s presentation of the black community in
‘To Kill A Mockingbird’.
4.) Give a character sketch of Atticus.
5.) Is Atticus an ideal father? Elaborate.
6.) Do you sympathize with Mayella Ewells? Explain.
7.) How has Harper Lee presented social snobbery in her novel ‘To Kill
8.) Elaborate on the relevance of the title to the plot of the novel.
9.) Discuss the concept of a gentleman that is presented in Chapter
11, where Atticus shoots the mad dog. How does that definition of gentlemanly
behavior contrast with the philosophy of self-expression? With the "macho"
concept of masculine behavior?
10.) Who is responsible for Tom Robinson's death? What answers do various
characters in the novel give to this question? What answer do you think
best represents the author's point of view? What do you think?
11.) What does the author's physical description of the town of Maycomb
tell you about the people who live there?
12.) Notice especially the description of the town in Chapter 1. Doesn't
the insistence that Maycomb is a lazy town where nothing ever happens
make you feel that something very ominous is going to occur before long?
How can this be?
13.) Jem Finch is one of the most important and complex characters in
the novel. How does his relationship with Scout change over the course
of the story? Who do you think resembles Atticus the most-Jem or Scout?
14.) Both Miss Maudie and Aunt Alexandra represent types of the southern
lady. How do the two characters differ? How are they alike? What does
Scout learn from each of them?
15.) Describe the differences among the Finches, the Cunninghams, and
the Ewells. What do you think of the novel's suggestion that individual
members of the same family more often than not run true to type? In considering
this question, pay attention to what the novel says about why this is
so, noticing especially what Atticus has to say about heredity versus
16.) How important is it to the novel that the narrator, Scout Finch,
is a child at the time the events of the story take place?
17.) Harper Lee has said that the South is "the refuge of genuine
eccentrics." What do you learn from the various eccentric characters
in the novel, for example, Boo Radley and Dolphus Raymond? Can you think
of any reasons why a society that is very conscious of class and family
tradition might also have more than its share of eccentrics?
18.) Do you think the character of Scout is a convincing portrait of childlike behavior? Why or why not?
19.) The voice you hear telling the story of the novel is actually that
of the adult Jean Louise Finch telling you about events that happened
when she was a child. At what points in the novel do you become aware
of this? How does this adult narrator's reflections contribute to your
understanding of the people of Maycomb? How does the adult Jean Louise
create suspense by hinting at certain developments yet to come in the
20.) Some readers have objected that the black characters in the novel
are two-dimensional and thus the story presents a superficial view of
the problem of racial prejudice. Do you feel that this is a valid criticism?
In thinking about this question you might want to read a novel by Richard
Wright, or some other black author presenting a view of life under segregation.
How do the two viewpoints compare?
21.) Why does Mr. Underwood come to the aid of Atticus in defending
Tom Robinson from the mob? Contrast Mr. Underwood's behavior with the
decision of Heck Tate to file a false police report about Bob Ewell's
death. How do the two men's ideas about justice differ?
22.) What does the story have to say about the importance of tradition?
In framing your discussion, notice that there are times when the narrator
approves of tradition, for example, in defending old-fashioned ideas about
education, and ridiculing Miss Caroline's modern ideas about how to teach
reading. On the other hand, Atticus, the hero of the story, criticizes
Aunt Alexandra for being too concerned with family traditions. And he
himself violated these traditions when he became a lawyer instead of a
23.) Some readers think that Jem's broken arm symbolizes the wound that
the system of segregation inflicted on white southerners. What do you
think of this idea? What evidence can you find in the story that the author
might have intended to make the broken arm a symbol?
24.) When To Kill a Mockingbird was first published in 1960 a number
of reviewers compared the character of Scout with Frankie, the tomboy
in Carson McCullers' play The Member of the Wedding. You might like to
read The Member of the Wedding for yourself and discuss how the two characters
are alike. Or, if you think they are very different, why you think the
comparison is a bad one.
25.) Discuss how Scout's attitude toward superstition changes over the
course of the novel. Don't forget to talk about the final chapter in the
story, where Atticus reads to Scout from the novel The Gray Ghost. Why
doesn't Scout find such stories scary anymore?
26.) Why do you think the scene in which Jem and Scout build a snowman
was included in the novel? Explain.
27.) Contrast the characters of Miss Maudie and the newspaper editor
Mr. Underwood. How can two individuals whose values are so different both
be "good" characters?
28.) What is the significance of Scout's criticisms of progressive education? If innocent children are sometimes wiser than the adults around them, as the story seems to be saying, why doesn't the narrator trust a system of teaching that depends on children's ability to learn through instinct and their own initiative?