Overview of the To Kill a Mockingbird Essay - DOC by 4AGK2Uzt


									The Absolutely Complete Guide to Writing Your To Kill a Mockingbird Essay
                                  Table of Contents

I. Cover page (1)

II. Table of Contents (2)

III. Overview of the To Kill a Mockingbird Essay (3)

IV. Guide to the Most Common Misunderstandings About To Kill a Mockingbird (4-5)

V. Correct Word Forms of the Major Topics for the Essay on TKM (6-7)

VI. Frequently Asked Questions on the To Kill a Mockingbird Essay (8)

VII. Suggested Chapter Titles to Help You Remember What Happened When and Where (9)

VIII. Things to Do and Not to Do in Your Five Paragraph TKM Expository Essay (10-12)

IX. Matching Appropriate Quotation to Idea (13-14)

X. Context Before Quotation (15-18)

XI. Explanation After Quotation (19)

XII. Example of Good Blending of a Quotation (20)

XIII. Citation of Regular (Not Block) Quotation (21-22)

XIV. Regular Quotations and Dialogue Within Quotations (23)

XV. Block Quotation vs. Regular Quotations: When and How to Use Block Quotation (24)

XVI. Quoting Just Dialogue (25)

XVII. Quoting Just Text That is Not Dialogue (26)

XVIII. The Personal I and You (27)

XIX. Formatting the Title (28)

XX. TurnItIn.com Instructions (29)

XXI. How to Assemble Everything to Hand In (30)

                    Overview of the To Kill a Mockingbird Essay

Using the standard essay form summarized below, you will write a five-paragraph essay
on one of the following ideas that Harper Lee develops in To Kill a Mockingbird.

Choose one of the following as your topic: courage, prejudice, or education. Develop a
thesis statement that clearly lays out your perspective on the topic.

Craft your essay with specific explanations and solid textual support from Harper Lee’s

Introductory Paragraph

—Use an appealing opener (an attention-grabber)
—Write a clear thesis (controlling idea; your main argument)
—Briefly list the main points your essay will cover
—Establish an authoritative voice

Body Paragraphs

—Write a topic sentence that links each body paragraph to your thesis while stating the
main idea of the paragraph
—Provide specific examples to support your ideas
—Include direct quotations from To Kill a Mockingbird (with accurate page numbers)
that directly and strongly connect to your idea
—Close each paragraph with a summarizing sentence that emphasizes your example’s
strong connection to the topic sentence and the thesis

Concluding Paragraph

—Restate your thesis (from the Introductory Paragraph), making sure you do not repeat it
—Sum up the main points of your Body Paragraphs

   Guide to The Most Common Misunderstandings About To Kill a Mockingbird

   The purpose of this document is to help you avoid misunderstanding crucial elements
   of the novel, and to help you nail the details. Please carefully read this document
   before you proceed with writing your essay.

                                     Black Characters

                                 Tom Robinson
                                 Helen Robinson
                                 Zeebo (Calpurnia’s son)
                                 Reverend Sykes
                                 Lula (trouble-maker at
                                 First Purchase Church)
                                 Jessie (the live-in nurse
                                 for Mrs. Dubose)

Every other named character in the book is white (the congregation of First Purchase and
the other blacks in and around the courthouse, and Tom and Helen Robinson’s children,
don’t count; they’re unnamed ‘background’ characters, like extras in a movie).

Cousin Francis is the grandchild—not the child—of Aunt Alexandra.

Out of the entire black congregation at First Purchase, only Lula demonstrates any
prejudice towards Jem and Scout. The entire rest of the church congregation welcomes
them, since their father is a great friend to the black community.

Miss Maudie Atkinson, Miss Stephanie Crawford and Miss Rachel Haverford are all
‘Miss,’ not ‘Mrs.’ All of them are unmarried.

Mrs. Dubose is ‘Mrs.’ She is widowed but is still very proud to have been married to her
husband, who fought in the Civil War (for the Confederacy), so she still goes by ‘Mrs.’

Mrs. Dubose was not dying because of her addiction to the painkiller morphine. She was
dying of something else (perhaps cancer, some other terminal illness, or just old age). She
wanted to die free from any addiction, so she had Jessie (her nurse) give her smaller and
smaller doses of morphine each day that Jem was reading to her until gradually she was
able to quit completely. Her (extremely painful) morphine withdrawal caused her ‘fits.’

There are no slaves in this novel. Slavery (in America) officially ended in the 1860’s,
long before this book even begins in the early 1930’s. There are black domestic servants
(like Calpurnia) and manual laborers (like Tom Robinson), but no slaves.

Mr. Radley, Boo Radley’s father, dies at the very beginning of the book and is
immediately replaced by Boo’s older brother, Mr. Nathan Radley. From that point on,
throughout the rest of the book, ‘Mr. Radley’ refers to Boo’s older brother Nathan, not
their father. Boo’s older brother fills the knothole of ‘the giving tree’ with cement to cut
off Boo’s only means of communication with the outside world, to further isolate Boo.

The group of men that come to visit Atticus at the start of Chapter Fifteen are friends of
his, there to warn Atticus about the possible danger of Cunninghams coming to
Maycomb’s jail later that night to lynch Tom Robinson. At first, Jem mistakenly thinks
they are a mob of enemies there to hurt Atticus. Later, when the children find Atticus out
in front of the Maycomb jail and the mob arrives from Old Sarum, it is an entirely
different group of men who get out of their cars to threaten Atticus. This time it really is
a lynch mob, made up of Cunninghams. Scout does not know they are members of a
lynch mob. Scout wrongly assumes that this group of men is the same group that came
over to the house earlier; she thinks that they are friends of Atticus. She does not realize
her mistake until she is already in the circle of men and does not recognize any of them
other than Mr. Cunningham. Scout does not realize these men pose a threat to Atticus—
and to her and Jem and Dill—when she runs over into their midst. She does not see any
danger until she is already amongst them.

Bob Ewell did not actually fall on his knife. This is just the cover story that Sheriff Heck
Tate is going to tell in order to protect Boo Radley. Boo Radley actually killed Bob
Ewell with the kitchen knife that is still stuck in Bob. The switchblade knife that Sheriff
Tate says he took off a drunk was Bob Ewell’s knife, the one Bob intended to use to kill
Jem and Scout, which he dropped when Boo intervened and killed Bob to protect the
children. Sheriff Tate actually did take it off a drunk—Bob was drunk when he attacked
Jem and Scout—but what Sheriff Tate does not say is that the drunk was Bob Ewell.

Atticus believes at first that Jem killed Bob Ewell and that Sheriff Tate is trying to cover
up for Jem to protect him. Atticus does not want to go along with this for several
reasons. For one, he believes that it would undermine his ability to raise his children if
they knew he was involved in covering up the truth—that they would lose faith in him
and no longer respect him if he lied—even if it was to protect Jem. Another reason is
that he is afraid that if he ‘covers’ for Jem, then what happened to Boo Radley in his
youth might also happen to Jem: due to one run-in with the law in his youth, Jem might
be plagued with rumors that would follow him around for the rest of his life. Atticus
does not want people to think that Jem’s lawyer-father pulled any strings to help Jem
avoid facing the legal consequences of his actions. That kind of gossip could ruin Jem’s
life, rumors dogging him the rest of his days. And finally, Atticus is convinced Jem
would never be convicted anyway, because it was clearly self-defense.

It is not until Sheriff Heck Tate finally gets Atticus to realize it was Boo Radley who
stabbed Bob Ewell that Atticus agrees to go along with the cover-up because he realizes
that the trial itself—along with all the publicity it would bring—would destroy Boo,
regardless of the verdict.

Finally, watch out for the following common misspellings and word choice errors:

‘Trail’ instead of ‘trial.’
‘Prejudice’ (a noun, a thing) instead of ‘prejudiced’ (a describing word) and vice-versa.
‘Aunt Alexandria’ or ‘Alexander’ instead of the correct ‘Aunt Alexandra.’
‘Black’ and ‘white’ are not capitalized except at the beginning of sentences.

              Correct Word Forms of the Major Topics for the Essay on TKM

Your essay on To Kill a Mockingbird may be about prejudice, education or courage. Sadly, many
people do not know how to correctly use these words and their variations. So please read this
document thoroughly to help you know exactly when and where and how to use the appropriate
parts of speech.


First of all, there is no such word as ‘prejudism.’ That word does not exist. Do not use it.
There is such a word as ‘racism,’ and the word ‘prejudice’ exists, but the two cannot be
combined together. ‘Prejudice’ is the word you want and it is a noun, a concept.

       RIGHT: There is a lot of prejudice in the town of Maycomb.

To change the noun form to a transitive verb that describes people you must add a ‘d’ to
the end of it: ‘prejudiced.’

       RIGHT: There are a lot of prejudiced people in the town of Maycomb.

       WRONG: There are a lot of prejudice people in the town of Maycomb.

The main verb form of ‘prejudice’ is either ‘prejudge’ as in, “The children prejudge Boo
Radley,” or ‘prejudice’ as in “The prosecution will not prejudice the jury against the

On a related note, you cannot simply ‘discriminate’ someone. It is only possible to
‘discriminate against’ someone. Without the word ‘against’ it just does not make any


‘Education’ is a noun. The adjective form is ‘educated’ as in “They are educated.” The
verb form is ‘educate.’


‘Courage’ is a noun, a concept. The adjective form is ‘courageous.’ There is no verb
form. You simply use a ‘be’ type of verb and add the adjective: “He is being
courageous.” The adverb form is ‘courageously.’

      Correct Word Forms of the Major Topics for the Essay on TKM: What Parts of
                       Speech to Use, When, Where, and How

 Noun (thing/concept)         Adjective (describing)             Verb (action-word)          Adverb (describes in what
                                                                                             manner something was done)

Prejudice                    Prejudiced         (technically   Prejudge or Prejudice        Prejudicially
                             this is a transitive verb, but
There’s a lot of prejudice   it’s used like an adjective)      Don’t prejudge people.       Jurors were told not to read
in Maycomb.                                                                                 the newspapers because it
                             Many people in the town           Don’t prejudice the jury     could make them view the
                             of Maycomb are deeply             against the defense.         case prejudicially.

Education                    Educated       (again this is     Educate                      N/A
                             technically a transitive verb)
Atticus wants Scout to get                                     Aunt Alexandra wants to      There is no adverb form
a good education.            Bob Ewell is not an               educate Scout on how to      of ‘educate,’ although
                             educated man.                     be a lady.                   ‘learnedly’ is a good

Courage                      Courageous                        Encourage                    Courageously
Atticus, Jem, Scout, and     Jem is very courageous to         Atticus tries to encourage   Atticus fought courageously
Boo showed courage           go back for his pants             his children to always do    against the town’s prejudice.
many times throughout        when he loses them.               the right thing.
the book.

FAQ’s on the To Kill a Mockingbird Essay
Does this have to be word-processed and submitted to
TurnItIn.com? YES. The final draft must be word-processed and turned
in as a hard copy and submitted to TurnItIn.com. If it is not, you get a zero.

Do we have to attach our rubric, our rough draft, outline, and
brainstorm? YES. If you do not attach all these things, you will not be
eligible for full credit.

Will you really drastically slash our points if we don’t attach our
rubric, rough draft, outline, and brainstorm to our final draft? YES.
That is correct. And you won’t be able to make up those lost points.

Do we have to have at least three direct quotations with page
numbers? YES. Without at least three direct quotations (including
accurate page numbers) you will not be eligible for full credit. If you don’t
have at least three direct quotations with accurate page numbers, I reserve
the right to slash your final score as much as I want and you won’t be able to
make up those points.

When is this due? Thursday, December 15th.

Can we work with someone else on this? Other than peer revising, no.

How many points is this worth? One hundred (100) points.

How long does it have to be? At least two typed double-spaced pages.

If we don’t get the score we want on our first attempt at a final
draft, may we resubmit for higher credit? YES. It is a major
assignment. You may resubmit twice.

Can we turn it in late for partial credit? YES. One day late means you
can still get up to sixty-six (66) points, and two days late means you could
earn a maximum of fifty (50) points.

   Suggested Chapter Titles to Help You Remember What Happened When and Where

One: “Welcome to Maycomb” or “Introduction to our Players”
Two: “School Daze”
Three: “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?” or “Walter” or “The Syrup Incident”
Four: “Front Porch Theatre Presents: The Fall of the House of Radley!”
Five: “Flowers in Hell”
Six: “Jem Gets Caught with His Pants Off”
Seven: “The Giving Tree”
Eight: “Fire and Ice”
Nine: “Cussin’ and Fussin’ an’ Gettin’ Merry Like Christmas”
Ten: “One-Shot Finch” or “A Mad Dog in February” or “Day of the Gun”
Eleven: “Reading to the Meanest Lady on Earth” or “Purgatory”
Twelve: “First Visit to First Purchase Church”
Thirteen: “Aunt Alexandra ‘Knows What’s Best’”
Fourteen: “The Amazing Return of the Astounding Dill”
Fifteen: “The Finch Children and Dill Hold Off a Hundred Folks with Their Bare Hands”
Sixteen: “The Trial and Spectacle Begin”
Seventeen: “Robert E. Lee Ewell’s Sinister Side”
Eighteen: “Mayella Testifies” or “The Lyin’, the Witch, and the Chiffarobe”
Nineteen: “Can I Get a Witness?”
Twenty: “Dolphus Raymond’s Deception”
Twenty-One: “Waiting for the Verdict”
Twenty-Two: “Coming to Terms with Injustice”
Twenty-Three: “Jem and Atticus Versus the Legal System” or “Jem and Scout Take On
Maycomb’s Caste System” or “Folks”
Twenty-Four: “Bad News at the Missionary Society Meeting”
Twenty-Five: “Being the Bearer of Bad News”
Twenty-Six: “The Nazis of Maycomb”
Twenty-Seven: “Scout Hams It Up at Halloween” or “One Down, Two to Go”
Twenty-Eight: “The Last Thing Bob Ewell Ever Did”
Twenty-Nine: “Hey, Boo” or “The Gray Ghost”
Thirty: “Let the Dead Bury the Dead”
Thirty-One: “Walking in the Shoes of Others” or “Goodnight Boo”

    Things to Do and Not to Do in Your Five Paragraph TKM Expository Essay

A proper introduction will:

1. Convey the sense of what your paper topic is about.
2. Identify the title and author.
3. Introduce (briefly) the three paragraph points (which will be the topic sentences in
   your three body paragraphs) in the order they will appear in your paper.
4. State your thesis (main idea or argument) in a clear, concise way that defines the topic
   of your paper.
5. Transition well into the first body paragraph.

A pretty good example of an introductory paragraph:

         In a small Southern town in the 1930’s, it took exceptional courage for a white person
to take a stand against racism. In Harper Lee’s novel To Kill a Mockingbird, the lawyer
Atticus Finch does exactly this, by agreeing to defend a black man falsely accused of having
raped a white woman. In doing this, Atticus demonstrates he is the most courageous person
in Maycomb, showing the different facets of courage in three significant ways. He not only
risks being alienated from the town and townspeople he loves so much (despite the horrible
flaws of Maycomb and his neighbors), he also tries his best to defend his client, Tom
Robinson, though he knows his struggle for justice is ultimately doomed, and finally, through
it all, he maintains his sense of civility and treats everyone with respect even in the face of
total disrespect towards himself and his children. Atticus goes beyond the racist limitations
of his society. By doing so he risks becoming an outcast for the courageous stand he takes.

A body paragraph will have:

1. A transition and a topic sentence.
2. Concrete development, that is, an example. This means that you:
   set up a quotation,
   use a quotation,
   reflect on that quotation, explaining what it means, how it relates to your main point
   of your paragraph (topic sentence) and/or the main point of the entire paper (thesis
3. A nice wrap-up to the paragraph and logical lead-in to the next.

A good example of a body paragraph:

        By defending Tom Robinson, Atticus risks invoking the ill will of many people in
his beloved Maycomb. His neighbor, Mrs. Dubose, directs her negative commentary at
his children, Jem and Scout, saying to them both, “Your father’s no better than the
n***ers and trash he works for!” (102). Since Atticus provides legal counsel to blacks
and poor whites, she holds him in utter contempt. The Ladies’ Missionary Society group,
of which Aunt Alexandra (Atticus’s sister) is a member, provides another good example
of the ostracism Atticus faces. One of the members, Mrs. Merriweather, says:

       I tell you there are some good but misguided people in this town. Good, but
       misguided. Folks in this town who think they’re doing right, I mean. Now far be
       it from me to say who, but some of ‘em in this town thought they were doing the
       right thing a while back, but all they did was stir ‘em up. (232-233)

Here she refers indirectly to Atticus, stating her belief that though he believes he has done
the right thing by defending Tom, he has in fact done nothing but ‘stir up’ the town’s
black population and made them more likely to cause trouble (and danger) for whites.
She even has the nerve to say this about Atticus in the Finch household, in front of Aunt
Alexandra (his sister) while eating his food. This clearly shows that many members of
Maycomb do not approve of Atticus seriously trying to defend Tom, and that by doing
so, Atticus is risking becoming as alienated from Maycomb and its people as someone
like Boo Radley or Mr. Dolphus Raymond. Though Atticus is “Maycomb County born
and bred,” (5) and related by blood or marriage to just about everyone in it, he could
become an outsider due to his courageous action in taking Tom’s case—seriously.

The second body paragraph would be about beginning knowing that you’re licked before
you’ve begun, but beginning anyway, and his belief that courage is not a man with a gun
in his hand, but fighting the good fight despite knowing that you cannot win.

The third body paragraph would be about Atticus maintaining civility and treating
everyone with respect despite their treating him with disrespect (examples would be the
way he interacts with Mrs. Dubose and also with Bob Ewell).

A proper conclusion will have:

1. A restatement of your thesis sentence. Use different words to say the same thing.
2. A review of the examples and any closing points.
3. A satisfying closure. The essay is left so that there are no (unintended) unanswered
   questions. There is a real feeling of finality.

A pretty good example of a concluding paragraph:

        Although many characters in the novel show courage, Atticus rises above all the
rest to show the many different facets of bravery: he risks becoming an outcast in the
town he loves, fights with all his strength and resources though he knows he will not win,
and throughout it all, maintains the utmost civility. He meets intolerance and ignorance
with understanding and compassion, fights against disrespect by using respectful
behavior, and always remains true to himself and his credo. Atticus walks in the shoes of
others and sees things from their points of view. Because of his compassion and strong
sense of morality and justice, he risks doing what he knows is right despite the possible
consequences. Truly, Atticus Finch represents the best parts of courage and humanity.

Examples of what NOT to do with your introduction:

Hi. I am a student and I am writing a paper for you to read. That is the paper you are
reading right now. I am not a very good writer but I hope you will take the time to read it
anyway and I hope you enjoy it. Okay, here goes. (Never apologize to the reader or treat
the paper as if it were a personal letter or e-mail. The reader knows she or he is reading a
paper that a student has written; you don’t have to state this.)

‘Courage’ is defined by Webster’s dictionary as ...           (You should avoid just using
dictionary definitions.)

Prejudice is everywhere in our society. I am going to talk to you now about prejudice.
There are many examples. (Where is the thesis, or a mention of the book or author?)

Harper Lee shows many examples of hypocrisy in her book To Kill a Mockingbird. I will
tell you about three of these examples. The first is when a teacher tells a student not to
read. A second is when certain women support helping blacks in Africa through
missionary work but do not even help the blacks in their own community and say racist
things about them. Finally there is the Radley family, which pretends to be very religious
and yet which treats the youngest son, Arthur, very poorly. (Again, examples are here,
which can be made into topic sentences, but the argument/main idea—that is to say, the
thesis sentence—is missing in action. Also, the topic is not one of the three options.)

In the Mockingbird book, Lee Harper uses many examples of community. He gives us
several examples. (Get the title and author right, and the author’s gender, and the subject,
which isn’t even on one of the possible topic areas.)

Examples of what NOT to do with your quotations:

Courage. Atticus has it. “It was times like these when I thought my father ... the bravest
man who ever lived” (100). So you can see my point. (No, actually, we can’t.)

“Atticus ... she wants me to read to her” (105). “The following Monday afternoon Jem
and I climbed the steep front steps to Mrs. Dubose’s house ...” (105). So Jem
demonstrates he is brave. Moving on to my next example ... (Two quotations back-to-
back, no setting up of the quotation, no explanation of it or its significance.)

Examples of what NOT to do in your conclusion:

Well, that is all the examples I can think of. I hope you enjoyed reading my paper.
(Again, the tone here is way too informal, like a personal letter or e-mail.)

I am sorry if I bored you but I hope I did not. (Do not address the reader directly or
apologize; if your paper is boring, spice it up. Do not write a lame paper and say you are

Finally, don’t start or end ANY paragraph with a quotation from the book.

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                         How to Assemble Everything to Hand In

The final product should be assembled like so (from left to right equals from top to bottom):

 RUBRIC on top                Final Draft
                                                 Rough Draft         Outline         Brainstorm      Digital
                                                                                     (on the         receipt
                                                                                     bottom)         from

Assemble it all together in this order and staple it all together the night BEFORE it is due.
That is part of the homework. Literally the only thing you should have to do to be ready
to hand it in on the due date is get it out of the front of your binder (or the front of your
English section of your binder) and set it on your desktop in front of you as soon as you
get to class and sit down at your desk. While it is true that I do want a hard copy of your
brainstorm, outline, and rough draft along with your final draft to be handed in during
class, you only need to submit an electronic copy of your FINAL DRAFT to
TurnItIn.com. Please ONLY turn in your final draft to TurnItIn.com, not anything else.


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