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Chapters 1-15 Study Guide
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Answer the questions below to contribute to class discussion. 

 

Part 1  Chapter 1

Chapter 1 introduces readers to the town of Maycomb, its appearance, its inhabitants, and the particular attitudes of many of its people. Find a sentence or a paragraph which illustrates each of the following attitudes/ideas. Quote at least a portion of the sentence or paragraph and give the page number.

a. pride in ancestry and "tradition."

b. pride in conformity and distrust of those who are different.

c. awareness of difference in social classes.

d. narrow span of interest and almost no interest in the world outside of Maycomb.

Approximately when does the story begin? Show evidence to support your answer.

What do we know about Boo Radley?

Why is Boo fascinated with children?

Chapter 2

1.

Scout makes three mistakes during her first day at school. What are her mistakes and why do they make Miss Caroline so angry?

2.

Why are the professional people in Maycomb poor at this time?

3.

What is the WPA, and why won’t Mr. Cunningham work for it?

 Chapter 3

1.

Calpurnia lectures Scout on manners when Scout criticizes Walter’s manners and Atticus supports her. What does this tell you about how both Calpurnia and Atticus feel about others?

2.

Burris Ewell, Walter Cunningham, and Chuck Little all head extremely poor families. However, there are great differences both in appearance and in attitudes, particularly between the Cunninghams and the Ewells. What are those differences and why do you suppose they exist?

3.

Atticus tells Scout, "You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… until you climb into his skin and walk around in it." What are some of the things that Scout begins to realize at this point?

4.

Why does Atticus say that the law is rigid for "common folk" but it is bent in certain ways for the Ewells?

5.

What is the "compromise" which Atticus suggests?

 Chapter 4

1.

In what specific way does Scout criticize the school she is attending?

2.

Where do you suppose the gum and the pennies are coming from? What makes you think so?

3.

Scout has two reasons for wanting to quit the "Radley Game." What are they?

Chapter 5

1.

Based on the description of Miss Maudie and her conversations with Scout, write a brief character analysis of Miss Maudie. Give your evidence.

2.

When Miss Maudie shows her disgust with the "foot-washing Baptists", is she actually putting down all Baptists, or a particular point of view? Explain.

3.

Explain Miss Maudie’s statement -- "…sometimes the Bible in the hands of one man is worse than a whiskey bottle in the hand of -- oh, of your father."

4.

Paraphrase Atticus’s speech about the Radley’s right to privacy. Do you agree with his point of view? Why or why not?

 Chapter 6

1.

What reasons do Jem and Dill give for trying to peek into the Radley window on this particular night?

2.

What final statement by Jem makes scout finally go along with the plan?

3.

After the incident, Jem’s real desire is not just to recover his pants but to keep on good terms with Atticus as well. What does this tell you about Jem’s relationship with his father?

 Chapter 7

1.

What was the condition of Jem’s pants when he found them? Why did their condition frighten him further?

2.

What are the significance of the gifts in the tree?

3.

Explain why Mr. Nathan Radley fills the hole in the tree with cement. Why does Jem cry about this?

 Chapter 8

1.

Why do Jem and Scout make the snowman such an obvious replica of Mr. Avery?

2.

Why does Atticus decide to keep the blanket incident a secret?

3.

After the fire is over, how does Miss Maudie feel about the destruction of her house? What does this tell you about her character, her values?

 Part 2  Chapter 9

1.

Explain Atticus’ statements about the following:

 

a. the use of the word "nigger"

b. his personal reasons for defending Tom Robinson

c. "Simply because we were licked a hundred years before we started is no reason for us not to try to win."

d. "Don’t pay any attention to her, Jack. She’s trying you out. Cal says she’s been cussing fluently for a week, now."

e. "When a child asks you something, answer him, for goodness’ sakes. But don’t make a production of it. Children are children, but they can spot an evasion quicker than adults…."

f. "Why reasonable people go stark raving mad when anything involving a Negro comes up, is something I don’t pretend to understand…"

2.

Who are the following people, and how are they related to Atticus and to the children?

 

a. Alexandra

b. Francis

c. Jack

d. Jimmy

Chapter 10

1.

At the beginning of this chapter, Scout is ashamed of Atticus. List his faults as she sees them.

2.

Explain why it is a sin to kill a mockingbird, according to Miss Maudie.

3.

Miss Maudie tries to explain Atticus’ excellent marksmanship and his lack of pride in it. How does she do this?

4.

Why won’t Jem allow Scout to brag about Atticus at school? Do you agree with him? Why?

 Chapter 11

1.

Why is Atticus so insistent about:

 

a. Jem and Scout being polite to Mrs. Dubose?

b. Jem’s reading to Mrs. Dubose?

2.

Why do you think the author gives such a detailed and ugly description of Mrs. Dubose? How does it make you feel?

3.

Discuss Atticus’ description of the phrase "nigger-lover". Do you agree with his ideas on this subject? Why?

4.

Atticus explains to the children why he considered Mrs. Dubose to be a "great lady" and a brave person. How does this "fit in" with his explanation of why he is defending Tom Robinson?

 Chapter 12

1.

Jem is now 12. There is a widening gap of understanding between Scout and Jem. Find two or three examples, which illustrate the emotional distance between them.

2.

How do you explain Lula’s antagonism toward Jem and Scout?

3.

Scout finds the church service to be similar to her own except for few differences. Explain what these are.

4.

Why does Cal speak one way around colored people and another around white people? Is she being honest or hypocritical in what she does? Explain.

 Chapter 13

1.

Scout and Aunt Alexandra communicate very poorly with each other. Is the fault more with one than the other, or are they equally at fault? Explain.

2.

What did Scout mean when she stated, "I know what he was trying to do, but Atticus was only a man. It takes a woman to do that kind of work."

Chapter 14

1.

How does Aunt Alexandra feel about Calpurnia? Explain why this is "in character" for Aunt Alexandra.

2.

Why is Scout so happy about the brawl with Jem?

3.

Explain how Jem "broke the remaining code of our childhood."

4.

Dill tries to explain to Scout why he did not want to stay with his mother and stepfather. State his reasons briefly in your own words.

Chapter 15

1.

Atticus discusses the Ku Klux Klan and concludes by saying that the Klan is gone. Is this statement correct? Explain.

2.

Describe events prior to the scene at the Maycomb jail that show the tension and the unrest of the town. Be specific.

3.

Discuss the irony of the following statement and the situation which it describes "…there followed what I later realized was a sickening comic aspect of an unfunny situation: the man talked in near-whispers."

4.

Why does Jem openly defy Atticus and refuse to leave?

5.

What does Scout’s childish attempt at a conversation accomplish? Explain.

6.

Why was Atticus so affectionate toward Jem after Jem had disobeyed him.

Remember to consider Dynamic, Static, Flat and Rounds Character Motiviations