To kill a mockingbird
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To kill a mockingbird. Thematic Review and Literary Essay Guidelines. Major themes. Schooling and Education Justice Racism Classism Gender Roles Maturity. Schooling and education. Education occurs in the school: structured Little importance is given to education

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To kill a mockingbird

To kill a mockingbird

Thematic Review and Literary Essay Guidelines

Major themes
Major themes

  • Schooling and Education

  • Justice

  • Racism

  • Classism

  • Gender Roles

  • Maturity

Schooling and education
Schooling and education

  • Education occurs in the school: structured

  • Little importance is given to education

  • Jem, Scout and Dill learn more about life outside of school

  • Main teachers: Atticus, Calpurnia, MsMaudie, and Aunt Alexandra

  • Each mentor figure has a tenet (or tenets) that they teach Scout

  • Schooling occurs reactively: something happens for a lesson to be given

Tenet: a principle, belief, or doctrine generally held to be true.

Things to consider
Things to consider

  • How does each episode help Scout mature?

  • Why is so little attention given to the school?

  • How is Jem’s schooling different to Scout’s?

  • How does the Ewells’ propensity for ignorance contrast with the Finches?

Propensity: an often intense natural inclination or preference


  • Justice in Maycomb is biased (except for a select few)

  • People of Maycomb make a spectacle of the trial

  • The Ewells’ perjury goes unpunished

  • Tom’s indictment does not surprise the adults

  • Boo seen as a hero for his vigilantism

  • Confederate General Robert E Lee, Bob Ewell’snamesake, was regarded as a man who fought a noble cause. How does this contrast with Bob?

Namesake: one that has the same

name as another or for whom another is named

Indict: to charge with a crime by the finding or presentment of a jury in due form of law.

Thing to consider
Thing to consider

  • What values do Atticus and Ms. Maudie model throughout the novel?

  • Wherein lies the bias that the people of Maycomb show before and after the trial?

  • Why are the Ewellsapprehensive towards Atticus when he wishes to question them?

  • How does Atticus’ rueful address to the jury and audience express his knowledge of the trial’s outcome?

Apprehensive: suspicion or fear, especially of future evil

Rueful: exciting pity or sympathy


  • Most of the townsfolk react negatively towards the Finches once Atticus takes the case

  • Separate churches, separate seating arrangements in the courthouse

  • Bob’s indignation at Mayella’s lust for Tom

  • DolphusRaymund’s isolation from society

Indignation: feeling or showing anger because of something unjust or unworthy

Things to consider1
Things to consider

  • How does Mrs. Dubose vehemently address Jem?

  • How do the people of Maycomb react to Tom’s death?

  • How does Tom’s case relate to the Dred Scott verdict? (youtube)

  • Consider the video “Birth of a Nation,” how do the views on black males relate to Tom Robinson? (youtube)

Vehement: marked by forceful energy; forcibly expressed


  • Jem lists a hierarchy within Maycomb county

  • Aunt Alexandra introduces a number of “streaks” families in Maycomb are known to have

  • “Background” as a trait that marks one family as better than another

  • The idea that there are certain core beliefs that a social class should have; behaviors that should be observed

Things to consider2
Things to consider

  • Mrs. Merryweather’s view of the Maroons as heathens

  • Aunt Alexandra’s opposition to Scout playing with Walter Cunningham

  • The county’s general opinion of the Ewells

Heathen: of or relating to heathens, their religion, or their customs; strange, uncivilized

Gender roles
Gender roles

  • Scout takes refuge in the kitchen

  • Aunt Alexandra makes her attend Sunday tea with the missionary society; Scout is forced to wear a dress

  • Jem excludes Scout from activities because of she is a girl

  • Jean Louise and Jeremy’s nicknames: reversal of gendered names

Things to consider3
Things to consider

  • Why does Aunt Alexandra decide to live with Atticus and his kids?

  • Why does Scout not act as impudently with the society women than she would with Atticus or Jem and Dill?

  • How does Harper Lee reinforce the idea that a woman’s place was in the home?

Impudence: marked by contemptuous or cocky boldness or disregard of others


  • Jem’s views on the legal system changes after the trial

  • Jem understands why Boo doesn’t want to leave the house

  • Scout understands the significance of “killing a mockingbird”

  • Innocence lost after the trial

Things to consider4
Things to consider

  • How does Jem react to the verdict?

  • What are Jems views of the people of Maycomb before and after the trial?

  • What does Scout learn from Aunt Alexandra’s sudden composure following her breakdown?

  • How does Scout show all that she has learned when walking Boo home?

Literary essay
Literary essay

  • Paragraph 1: hook, title and author, thesis (3 points), transition

  • Paragraph 2: 1st point, proof (quote(s)), analysis, transition

  • Paragraph 3: 2nd point, proof (quote(s)), analysis, transition

  • Paragraph 4th: 3rd point, proof (quote(s)), analysis,

  • Paragraph 5: Restate thesis and 3 points, comment on the topic, closing statement


  • Boo and the Radley residence has been the source of fear and mystery in the kids’ lives. Analyze 3 summers and explain how Scout grows out of her fear during the autumn of the 3rd year.

  • Calpurnia, Aunt Alexandra, and Ms. Maudie are all motherly figures. What do they teach Scout? How does she show what she learned?

  • A number of people in Maycomb County helped Tom and his family before and during the trial. Name 3 and explain how they helped.

Important info
Important info

  • Due November 27th

  • Minimum 500 words

  • Rough copy/edit/good copy

  • Writing competency (40 marks)

  • Do not use the 1st person

  • Use the present tense


  • Asinine

  • Mutilate

  • Libel

  • Ramshackle

  • Foolhardy

  • Chattel

  • Contentious

  • Namesake

  • Impudent

  • Indicted

  • Heathen

  • Vehement

  • Indignant

  • Apprehension

  • Ruefully

  • Contentious

  • Assuage

  • Stricture

  • Aberration

  • Misdemeanor

  • Tenet

  • Propensity