To Kill a Mockingbird
These are review notes for To Kill a Mockingbird. They are not intended to be a substitute for reading the book.
Return to the: Teaching Literature page
To Kill A Mockingbird (MnBrdNot.Eng) Overview: *Begin to see the world according to "Scout" Finch - as in True Grit we saw through the eyes of Mattie Ross. *We also see more than she sees as we begin to learn about her as a person. The novel can be richer in character and background detail than the film has time to do. Even a mini-series can cover a book in only the main ideas. Character development is the most notable loss. (Consider Tall-short-Tall student demonstration of viewpoint) Tall \ Tall Short/ Chapter 1 (p.7-19) Jem - arm broken at 13 Flashback Genealogy of Simon Finch eventual plantation owner Alabama Atticus became a lawyer- first two clients hanged- Maycomb- Hot- people move slowly Scout's mother dies when Scout is 2 yrs. old "Dill" (Charles Baker Harris) arrives. "Boo" Radley- Kept in house- stabs father w/scissors, allegedly eats raw squirrels Jem touches Radley house because of Dill's dare. Chapter 2 (p.20-27) Scout's first day at school. Teacher critical of Scout's reading ability. Scout- Dewey Decimal System waving cards w/"cat", "rat", "man", etc. Told to stop writing since that wasn't done until 3rd grade. Teacher a "dolt". Walt Cunningham no lunch- Scout's explanation gets her in trouble. Miss Blount quiets class. Chapter 3 (p.27-36) Scout's fight w/Walter Cunningham interrupted by Jem. Walter pours syrup on vegetables. Scout's laughing corrected by Calpurnia. Burris Ewell intimidates Miss Caroline until Little Chuck Little intervenes. Atticus tells Scout to empathize w/Miss Caroline but they can go on reading. Ewells disgrace of county for 3 generations. Chapter 4 (p.37-45) School is very boring for Scout who reads Time magazine at home but at first grade level in school- i.e. crayons & construction paper Scout and Jem find things in the tree- Indian head, pennies. Dill says his father's pres. of L&N Railroad. Jem rolls Scout in a tire to the Radley's porch. Jem, Scout, Dill make up a play about the Radleys- (Mrs. Radley loses right forefinger.) Chapter 5 (p.46-54) Mrs. Maudie raises flowers - 'foot-washing' Baptists - say she's going to hell. Dill Harris- telling many tales about his dad. Jem tries to get note to Boo with a fishing pole- All 3 caught by Atticus. Told by Atticus not to put on the play about the Radleys anymore. Chapter 6 (p.54-62) The 3 sneak at night into the Radleys to see Boo. Last day of summer vacation so if they're killed, they only miss school. Spit on hinge- Sneak up- run- shotgun- flee- Jem loses his pants on fence Gambling w/matches- story to Atticus- Jem goes back for pants. Chapter 7 (p.62-68) Second grade for Scout. Mild autumn- fall- Soap figures in the tree- Jem & Scout Mr. Radley fills tree w/cement. Atticus says tree appears healthy. Chapter 8 (p.68-78) Scout thinks the world's ending. It's snowing. Mr. Avery says "bad children like you make the seasons change." Jem and Scout make a snowman of Mr. Avery which Atticus calls a "near libel." Disguise snowman. Gets down to 16 degrees F. Miss Maudie's house catches on fire and burns. Fireman save other houses. "Boo" Radley puts a blanket around "Scout" who's watching the fire. Snowman- Scout calls it Morphodite (p.78) because of what she hears Miss Maudie (p.72) say. Chapter 9 (p.79-93) Scout fight w/Cecil Jacobs. Atticus defending Tom Robinson. Uncle Jack criticizes Scout's "cussing" and gives Jem and Scout air rifles. Old Finch House- girl's bedrooms exit through parents'. Francis- Scout's cousin- She sees him at Christmas dinner- he calls Atticus a "nigger-lover". Scout ambushes Francis- Uncle Jack punishes her. Scout tells her side and Uncle Jack is sorry. Atticus thinks Maycomb is prejudiced against Tom. Chapter 10 (p.93-103) Atticus "feeble"- nearly 50. Can't do "anything" (p.94) Re: airguns Atticus says "it's a sin to kill a mockingbird." The kids (Jim and Scout) spot Tim Johnson, a rabid dog. Calpurnia calls Atticus who arrives w/ the sheriff Heck Tate. Heck asks Atticus to shoot the dog and he does w/one shot. Jem and Scout learn that Atticus doesn't brag about all his accomplishments. Zeebo "collects" dog's body. Chapter 11 (p.103-116) Mrs. Dubose plagues Jem until he destroys her camellias w/the baton he bought for Scout. For punishment he has to read to Mrs. Dubose for a month and then one more week after that. Atticus explains after she dies that she was overcoming a morphine addiction. He says she had courage. Mrs. Dubose leaves Jem a Snow-on-the-Mountain camellia. Chapter 12 (p.117-129) Jem was 12. growing up Calpurnia takes Jem and Scout to her church where she talks "colored" dialect. She learned to read and can understand Blackstone's Commentaries and taught Zeebo, her son. Chapter 13 (p.129-137) Aunt Alexandria shows up to help Scout's behavior and keeps up tradition of "fine family." Sinkfield of Sinkfields' tavern got that spot to be the county seat. Chapter 14 (p.137-146) Aunt Alexandria wants to send Cal (Calpurnia) away. (and the kids not to go back to her church. Dill runs away from home- his mom remarries and neglects him. He hides under Scout's bed. Chapter 15 (p.146-157) Group of men gather in Atticus' yard for a threatening purpose. Jem says (shouts) there's a phone call. Tom Robinson back in town-(jail) Mob wants to lynch him- Atticus stands up to them- Scout saves Atticus by reminding Mr. Walter Cunningham about his entailment. Chapter 16 (p.158-168) p. 160 Atticus speaks - re: theme " stand in someone's shoes" [empathy] Scout made Mr. Walter Cunningham do that- Everyone comes to the county seat for Tom Robinson's trial- Dolphus Raymond- drinks whiskey (allegedly) from a coca-cola bottle - lines up w/colored folks- his bride-to-be (white) shot herself- Taboo subject- whites having "black" blood Judge Taylor- a shark- chews cigars Revered Sykes get the kids places in the colored balcony Chapter 17 (p.168-181) Mr. Gilmer- prosecutor (solicitor) Heck Tate describes Mayella's reported rapes and bruises. She was bruised on right side by left-handed man. Bob Ewell testifies- re: Tom Robinson the accused. Bob is left-handed. Mayella grows red geranium. The Ewells live next to the dump. Their water supply runs through it. their home was once a Negro cabin. (Handed down to them) Chapter 18 (p.181-192) Mayella called to the stand. She's 19 and a half, not too bright, and tries to keep clean. She tells her version of the story. Tom Robinson's left arm is withered. Atticus trying to establish that Bob Ewell beat Mayella, or at least that Tom Robinson didn't. Chapter 19 (p.192-202) Tom Robinson testifies- Did lots of chores for Mayella- (Busting up junk furniture for firewood) Mayella lures him in- Bob sees her kissing him and Tom runs for it. Link Deas shout out Tom's a good worker. Under cross-examination Tom slips and says he felt sorry for Mayella. The all-white jury is immediately prejudiced against him for thinking he's better than any white person. Scout takes out Dill (from court) who's "sick" at the prejudice. [Author's way of taking narrator out of repetitive situation] Chapter 20 (p.202-208) Dolphus Raymond drinking "coke" allows other to think it's alcohol. (Scout and Dill return to court) Atticus- Says Mayella tempted a negro and beaten by left-handed man. No proof Tom is guilty or even that a rape occurred Everyone should be equal under the law. Chapter 21 (p.209-214) The kids go home for an hour- eat dinner- return and wait for jury's verdict. The jury won't look Tom in the eye as he is found guilty. The black people in the balcony stand up in respect as Atticus leaves the court. Chapter 22 (p.214-219) Jem upset at verdict. Miss Maudie says some men born to do the unpleasant jobs- Atticus is one of them. Some were helpful to Tom- Judge Taylor (appoints Atticus) Heck Tate (keeping Tom safe.) Bob Ewell spits in Atticus' face. (Atticus says he's too old to fight.) p.219 Chapter 23 (p.220-230) Children afraid for Atticus. Atticus says stand in Bob Ewell's shoes for a minute. Jem comments on the unfairness of jury. Atticus says yes, but it's improving. Aunt Alexandria won't let Walter Cunningham come over- Wants Scout to become a young lady, according to Jem. p.230 Boo Radley brought back into story by a comment to keep the plot "alive". Chapter 24 (p.230-240) Aunt Alexandria and her missionary circle meet. Scout in her Sunday dress is helping to serve refreshments. She's kidded about her dress and her future. J. Grimes Everett- missionary in foreign land- "Ladies" encouraging blacks to be Christian. Scout accurately, as a child, thinks the minister should talk to Mayella Ewell not Tom Robinson's wife. Mrs. Merriweather complaining about a "sulky darky" when Tom Robinson has been sent to prison unjustly. p.236 His food doesn't stick going down does it? Miss Maudie ask Mrs. Merriweather. Tom Robinson is shot 17 times while trying to escape prison. Cal goes w/Atticus to tell Helen Alexandria and Scout go on serving the gossiping ladies to be "proper ladies". Chapter 25 (p.240-244) Jem won't let Scout smash a "roly poly". Jem tells Scout who tells the reader about Atticus and Cal's visit to Helen Robinson. Underwood's editorial- senseless killing- Mr. Ewell reportedly said "one down and about two more to go" Chapter 26 (p.244-250) Scout not afraid of Radley place. Atticus re-elected to state legislature- In school Hitler vs. the Democracy of U.S.A. (Irony- considering Tom Robinson) Scout wants to know why ^ and Jem says he never wants to talk about it again. Chapter 27 (p.250-256) Bob Ewell prowls around Judge Taylor's (probably)- and harasses Helen Robinson until Link Deas threatens him with the law. Halloween became an organized affair after a children's prank on the Misses Barber's furniture in the cellar. A carnival and a pageant took place - Scout was to be a ham. Jem and Scout's longest walk together. (foreshadowing) Chapter 28 (p.257-269) On the way Cecil Jacobs scares them. Scout and Cecil go around together. Scout comes in late to the program- and walks home w/Jem in her costume- can't find her clothes. Jem hears something following- Scout hears it too. Her costume easy to spot. Jem and Scout attacked- a man carries Jem to his house. Dr. Reynolds comes to care for Jem (broken arm) Heck Tate finds Bob Ewell with a kitchen knife stuck up under his ribs. Chapter 29 (p.269-273) Heck Tate asks questions. Aunt Alexandria goes to her room. Scout saved from knife cut by the wire in her costume. Scout sees Boo hiding in the room and recognizes him as the man who helped her. Chapter 30 (p.273-279) Atticus thinks Jem killed Bob Ewell. Heck claims Bob fell on his knife although it's evident that Boo Radley stabbed him. He wants to avoid the publicity to Boo, and Scout convinces Atticus that it would be like killing a Mockingbird. Chapter 32 (p.279-284) Scout takes Boo home and never sees him again. From his porch Scout reviews the events of the book. At home Atticus reads her The Gray Ghost. Theme: Most people are nice when you finally "see" them (p.284) As Scout falls asleep Atticus goes to spend the rest of the night w/Jem.