To Kill a Mockingbird
Write a descriptive essay on one of the characters in the novel you thought was most interesting.
Your essay must be 2-3 pages long and typed (double spaced). Use specific quotes from the text
to explain your ideas.
You must also complete two of the activities on the second page.
Character Study Information
Use the following information about characters to help you think of things to write about when
writing about a character:
A character is a person or animal that takes part in the action of a literary work or production such
as a play or movie. The main character is the protagonist and is the focus of the work. There are
major and minor characters. The person or source of the conflict is called the antagonist.
Characterization is the process of showing what a character is really like. Direct
characterization is when the author simply tells what the character is like. Example: Danny is
scared and lonely. Indirect characterization results when the writer shows what the character is
like by describing what the character says or does, how the character looks, or what other
characters say or think about him or her.
Elements of Character
The characteristics that make a character unique and interesting are shown through the elements
of character. They may be divided into categories:
I. PHYSICAL TRAITS
A. Appearance: hair, coloration, height, weight, features (i.e. scars, freckles,
glasses), age or dress
B. Background (setting): -where s/he grew up (location, town, house, room,
-Era: time, season, year
-Social-economic status, education, occupation
-Hobbies, skills, interests, talents
II. MANNERISMS AND CHARACTER TRAITS
A. Personality: emotional or rational; shy or outgoing; talented, graceful or clumsy,
awkward; happy or sad; carefree or serious; caring, sensitive or cold; leader or
follower; ho nest or dishonest; enthusiastic, optimistic or pessimistic; hardworking
or lazy; dominant or recessive, etc.
B. Motivation: likes or dislikes; wishes, goals, dreams, needs
C. Relationships: how is s/he related to others; how does s/he interact with others;
D. Conflict: Is character involved in some struggle?
Internal: struggle with oneself in the mind
External: struggle with some outside force
Is the conflict resolved? How? (how one chooses to resolve a conflict reveals
E. Change: Does character change during the course of work? Does s/he grow?
Is the character static (unchanging) or dynamic (changing)?
F. Speech: Talkative or quiet; clear, deliberate, enunciation; mumbles; loud or soft
voice; gruff or gentle; forthright or evasive
Writing about a character:
1. Gather information while you read (take notes)
2. Make a chart using the above information. You'll get a clear picture of your character as
you answer all of the above questions.
3. Write a topic sentence for each aspect of your character's character. Then fill in with
supporting sentences. You'll find that you have much information with which to write a
good descriptive essay.
4. Make your reader feel like they know this character or person. Make your essay flow from
one section to the next.
5. While you're describing your character and revealing him/her, tell me a little about the
story; and the part s/he played in it. What kind of affect did he/she have on the outcome
etc. Be creative and have fun!
1. Assume the identity of one of the following characters and write a diary entry detailing the
events of the trial: Atticus Finch, Tom Robinson, Jem Finch, Mr. Cunningham, or Mayella
2. Write a letter to a friend recommending To Kill a Mockingbird. Why do you think this
book provides a worthwhile reading experience?
3. Choose an issue of current national or international importance. Assuming the identity of
Atticus Finch, write a letter to the editor of your newspaper presenting your views of this
4. To Kill a Mockingbird is related from the point of view of young Scout Finch. Because
readers see the story through the eyes of a child, they receive a somewhat satirical view
of the adults in the novel. Discuss Harper Lee’s use of satire and give examples.
5. Discuss examples of discrimination that you have personally seen and/or are aware of
through reading or mass media. Consider race, gender, age, sexual orientation, and