1. What started the chain of events leading to Jem's breaking his arm, according to Jem? Who started it according to Scout?
Jem says that Dill came to town and gave them the idea of making Boo come out. Scout blames the Ewells for the events that unfolded. Atticus says they are both right.
2. We know that the setting of this story will be Maycomb, Alabama, a sleepy Southern town that's a little rough around the edges. What is the time period of this story? Give evidence to support your conclusion about the time period of this novel.
The novel is set in the early-to-mid 1930s, during the Great Depression. There's several pieces of
evidence that students might cite, including the reference to F.D.R. and his famous line, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself," from his 1933 first inaugural address. Scout says, "Maycomb County has recently been told that it had nothing to fear but fear itself." Later, we'll know in ch. 21 that the trial of Tom Robinson takes place in 1935, when Scout is a little older than she is now.
3.Our narrator is Scout, a girl who will grow from age 6 to almost 9 during the story. What do you suppose we, as the readers, should be aware of as we listen to Scout tell her story? Is a child a reliable or unreliable narrator? Defend your answer.
Since Scout is a child, we should remember that she'll have a limited view/understanding of the world around her. In some ways, children are more open and honest than adults. In other ways, though, they are not able to fully make sense of the troubling things they see and are more likely than adults to accept someone's words without thinking critically about those words. A child's view of the world is delightful and we will be charmed by Scout. We will, though, need to read between the lines in this book at times as Scout struggles to understand things that the more - mature reader will already understand. Scout is an unreliable narrator, so the reader will need to do some work to determine that is – and isn't – true. Jem's exaggeration of Boo Radley's appearance is a good example of this. Scout believes her older brother; we, however, should be more skeptical.
4. Dill, the children's neighbor during the summer, is described as "a pocket Merlin, whose head teemed with eccentric plans, strange longings, and quaint fancies." What does this mean?
Dill is tiny for his age, hence the "pocket." He's so small you could tuck him in your pocket. He's a "Merlin," which is an allusion to the famous wizard/magician. Dill has a wonderful, inventive imagination. He loves stories and adventures. It's because of Dill's personality and ideas that Jem and Scout will be pulled into the Boo Radley mystery part of this story. If it hadn't been for Dill, these events would not have unfolded in this way.
5. Jem and Scout call their father by his frst name, Atticus, instead of calling him "Dad" or "Daddy." What does this tell you about their relationship?
The children's mom has died and Atticus is a single father. Students will probably guess that Atticus is a straight-forward or even stern man. They might guess that the relationship between the children and their father is more business-llike and less warm/fuzzy.
6. What has Dill done that earns him Jem's respect?
Dill has seen the movie Dracula. Dill seems worldly, as though he enjoys a lot of personal freedom.
7. What do both Scout and Dill lack?
A parent. Scout's mother has passed away, and we know nothing of Dill's father.
8. What does Charles Baker Harris proclaim he can do when introducing himself to Scout and Jem?
He can read. Jem answers that it's no big deal, that Scout's been able to read since she was born. This foreshadows the dif culty Scout will have in school because of her ability.
9. Describe the Radley place. How does this description set the mood?
The house is low, "once white," with rotting shingles and oak trees that don't provide shade so much as they "kept the sun away." The picket fence "drunkenly guarded" the yard, meant to be a "swept yard" or a hard dirt yard, but it is never swept and is instead full of weeds. The reader is made to feel the disrepair, the neglect, and the spookiness which frames the whole haunted story of Boo and is what attracts the children (and the reader), just as Dracula might.
10. Who were the Cunningham boys and what happened to them? What's the irony here?
The Cunninghams were rowdy troublemaking teens who were arrested, along with Arthur "Boo" Radley. Boo was taken home and locked away from the world by his father. The Cunninghams, however, were sentenced to attend the state's industrial school, sort of a juvenile hall of the 1930s. The irony is that the state school gave the boys an excellent education and one of them even went on to college to become an engineer. Boo, who wasn't even one of the ringleaders of the teen crew, was denied access to everything and still rots in that sad, broken house.
11. What do the Radleys do that Maycomb citizens and unacceptable? Why is this frowned upon?
They keep to themselves. By not integrating into town life, they seem to say they don't need others, and in turn they prevent others from inserting themselves into the Radley's business.
12. How does Boo come to be shut in his house? Who is the primary source of information about Boo for the children?
According to neighborhood legend and Miss Stephanie Crawford, a notorious gossip, Boo once ran with some wild teenage boys that were all sent to reform school. Boo's father said that he would keep him home instead and did, keeping him locked in the house. One day while he was cutting articles out of the newspaper, Boo ran his scissors through his father's leg and then resumed his work. Since Atticus won't verify the story, having the information come through Miss Stephanie lets the reader know that it may or may not be true.
13. How does Jem describe Boo to Scout?
He describes him like he's a monster: six-and-a-half feet tall; with bloodstained hands; yellow, rotten teeth; bulging eyes; and a scar across his face. He eats raw squirrels and drools.
14. What is the first animal to which Boo is compared and why?
A turtle. Jem says trying to make him come out of his house is like trying to get a turtle out of its shell. To do that, the children say, you light a match under them which isn't cruel, according to Jem, because they can't feel anything. At this point Boo is a thing to them, not a person.
15. According to Jem, how do you get a turtle to come out of its shell? In what way might this idea be an apt parallel to get people to do what they don't want to do? Give a real-world example to support your answer.
Jem says that if you light a match under a turtle, the creature will come out of its shell as it tries to move away from the fame. In life, people are sometimes fearful, but need a motivation to get moving. Examples from your students will vary. One example is of an obese man receiving an alarming medical report indicating that he's cutting his life short with his poor diet/inactivity. That doctor's visit (and the fear it creates) might be the fame that gets the man moving. In a similar way, the government will make laws and impose taxes to create a pain point to motivate citizens to move onto a better path. High cigarette taxes, for example, might motivate some smokers to give up the habit.