Lesson Title: Standing in Someone Else’s Shoes: Different Characters’ Perspectives
Course and Grade: Sophomore English, 10th
The main idea of these lessons is to look at the power dynamics in a chapter through the perspectives of
multiple characters. It’s important for students to gain a deeper understanding of the book by looking at the
same events and particularly the power relationships through multiple points of view; also, this skill of
empathizing with others is a central theme of the book and students willing and able to see things from
multiple points of view are better equipped to be peacemakers.
Dispositions: students will demonstrate a willingness to see things from different points of view.
Facts: students will know and be able to state that Mrs. Dubose is addicted to morphine, she is attempting
to kick the habit before she dies, Atticus makes Jem read to Mrs. Dubose to help her get through her
Skills: students will be able to read for comprehension, make inferences based on text, see events of book
through different perspectives, respond to text and each other with thoughts that build upon or extend what
has been said before, understand and be able to articulately explain relationships and power, and define
power in their own words
1.4c analyze literary elements (plot, characters, setting, theme, point of view, conflict, resolution)
2.1c use prior knowledge of issues, characters, events, and information to examine texts and extend
2.1d synthesize ideas from selections to make predictions and inferences about various texts
3.3c analyze recurring themes in literature such as human interaction, identity, conflict and struggle, and
2.3a write in a variety of forms and genres.
Materials: Lesson plan, copies of To Kill a Mockingbird, pencils or pens, paper, copies of POV
Context and Purpose: “Today we’re going to look at the events of Chapter Eleven from the perspectives
of the different characters appearing in it. To gain a deeper understanding of any work, it’s helpful to
imagine what the events of the book look like to the different characters. This helps us understand not only
the plot better but also the characters. We’ll be especially focusing on the dynamics of power in the
Instruction: “First, I want to make sure we all understand what happened in Chapter Eleven, so we’ll
discuss it. Then, we’ll move on to the Point-of-View Write.”
Discussion Questions for Chapter Eleven of To Kill a Mockingbird
Before the final straw, before Jem has had it with Mrs. Dubose, how do the children first react to her mean-
spirited and racist ranting and ravings? (99-100)
They try to be nice, and when that fails, they do their best to ignore her, for example, by walking on the
other side of the street (which just makes her yell even more loudly).
What or who gives them the strength to react the way they do? (100)
Atticus has told them many times of the importance of holding their heads high and that it’s their job not to
let her make them mad.
What are the reasons why Jem freaks out and attack Mrs. Dubose’s camellias? (102-103)
Answers will vary, but may include that: his anger and resentment over her insults about Atticus just built
and built until he could no longer contain the fury and he had to unleash it, and so he attacked what he
knew she loved the most: her camellias.
(If necessary) Why doesn’t he attack her directly?
It is taboo to directly physically attack a sick old woman. Society forbids it.
(If necessary) Why does Jem attack her camellias, specifically, as opposed to something else of hers?
Jem knows her camellias are the things she loves most in the world: he wants to hurt her by striking at the
thing he knows she prizes most highly.
When Atticus finds out about the camellia incident, what does Atticus make Jem do, and why does Atticus
insist on this? (104)
Atticus makes Jem go and apologize to Mrs. Dubose in person. When Mrs. Dubose asks that Jem help her
to re-grow her flowers and also come read to her on a regular basis (for a month), Atticus insists Jem must
do this. As for why, answers may vary, but may include that: Atticus is trying to teach Jem to take
responsibility for the consequences of his actions, that he must ‘face the music’ and make amends; also that
Atticus knows Mrs. Dubose is dying and he wants her to have someone to help her keep her mind off her
pain as she gets free of her morphine addiction and battles her withdrawal. He also wants Jem to learn
what real courage is, from Mrs. Dubose’s example.
Why is Atticus trying so hard to impress upon his children the importance of keeping one’s head even
when times get really hard?
Answers may vary, but may include: Atticus knows both Jem and Scout will have to keep their cool about
the Tom Robinson trial coming up.
Why in the world would Mrs. Dubose want Jem to come and read to her?
Answers may vary, but may include that: Mrs. Dubose wants to ‘power-trip’ over Jem and get back at him
by forcing him to spend time with her (which she knows he would hate); she wants company because she is
lonely; she wants someone to help distract her from the pain of her withdrawal.
How do the children first react to seeing the inside of Mrs. Dubose’s house? (106)
The house makes Scout expectant, afraid, and watchful. It creeps them out and it smells bad. They dislike
Do you feel sorry for Mrs. Dubose?
Answers will vary.
How do you think Jessie feels hearing Mrs. Dubose use the ‘n-word’ so freely?
Answers will vary, but will probably include: she doesn’t care because it was so common at the time and
she’s used to it, and also it hurts her feelings because no matter how common and socially accepted it was,
that word still hurts.
If Mrs. Dubose is so racist, why would she have a black nurse in her home, taking care of her, who would
be around all the time?
Answers may vary, but may include: for Mrs. Dubose, it’s a power trip, a reminder of the ‘good old days’
of slavery when blacks served whites. Mrs. Dubose can’t have a slave tend to her all the time but she can
have a servant who she can order around. She feels it’s ‘appropriate’ and ‘fitting’ that a black woman wait
on her. It upholds and fits with her racist view of the world and the social order. She gets to boss her nurse
around and feel ‘superior.’
Why was it so important to Atticus that Jem and Scout go over to be with Mrs. Dubose during her final
weeks of life?
Answers will vary, but may include that: Atticus wanted the children to help Mrs. Dubose keep her mind
off her intense pain as she gradually decreased her dosage of morphine until she was free of her addiction,
and also that Atticus wanted Jem and Scout to see what true courage was.
Why was it so important to Mrs. Dubose to die free from her morphine addiction?
Answers will vary, but may include that: Mrs. Dubose was stubborn and had made up her mind to die free;
she didn’t want to die beholden to anything or anyone. Maybe she saw this as her final weakness she
needed to conquer.
What does Atticus not want his son to think courage is, and what is true courage, according to Atticus?
Atticus doesn’t want Jem to think courage is a man with a gun in his hand (like when Atticus shot the mad
dog). He wants Jem to know that true courage is “when you know you’re licked before you begin but you
begin anyway and you see it through no matter what.”
Why does Atticus call Mrs. Dubose “the bravest woman I ever knew?”
Answers may vary, but may include: because she battled against her addiction at all costs, even though it
was horribly painful. She wanted to be free and fought bravely to free herself from her addiction.
Does Atticus really respect Mrs. Dubose?
Answers will vary.
Did Mrs. Dubose really respect him, despite what she has said about him to Jem and Scout?
Answers will vary.
What does Mrs. Dubose send to Jem in a candy box, and how does Jem react to seeing it? (111)
Mrs. Dubose sends Jem a candy box with a perfect camellia inside. She had Jessie prepare it and give it to
Atticus to give to Jem. Jem flings it down and screams, “Old hell-devil, old hell-devil! Why can’t she just
leave me alone?”
What was Mrs. Dubose’s intention in sending that flower to Jem; what did she mean for it to communicate,
and what did Jem take it to mean? (111-112)
Atticus believes it was Mrs. Dubose’s way of saying everything was all right, that the two of them were
‘square.’ It was almost like she was saying she forgave him and he was all right in her book. Jem took it to
be like her striking at him from beyond the grave, a last dig, a parting shot, a nasty put-down or reminder of
how she had ‘gotten’ him when he had to go and read to her.
“What would happen if Mrs. Dubose fired Jessie? What would be the consequences for both of them?”
Answers may vary, but may include that: Mrs. Dubose would not be able to find someone to take care of
her, and Jessie might not be able to find work herself. Both need the other.
“Could Mrs. Dubose live independently, and if not, who else would be willing to be her caregiver?”
Mrs. Dubose could not live on her own, and she might not be able to find anyone else willing to put up with
her long enough to be her caregiver.
“Would a white woman take such a job? Why or why not?”
A white woman might not take this job simply because it might be looked at as ‘beneath’ her, as work fit
only for a black woman.
“Would Mrs. Dubose hire a white woman? Why or why not?”
Answers may vary, but may include that: Mrs. Dubose probably would not hire a white woman, because
black nurses ‘know their place’ and Mrs. Dubose may like being reminded on a daily basis that she has a
black woman in an inferior position, waiting on her (of course, she’s dependent on her nurse, Jessie), but
the power relationship confirms for Mrs. Dubose every day that she still has power over a black woman,
which is a little bit like slavery, and that’s the way Mrs. Dubose likes it.
“What economic factors would be a factor in Mrs. Dubose’s ability to find a replacement for Jessie, and
what social or personal factors would exist?”
Mrs. Dubose might not be able to find anyone else to work as her nurse because no one would be willing to
put up with her; on the other hand, times are tough and people are looking for work.
“Does Mrs. Dubose trust Jessie, and could she ever trust anyone else?”
Answers may vary, but most likely most students will say that Mrs. Dubose trusts Jessie as much as she
trusts anyone, and probably could not trust anyone else.
“Today we’ve looked at the same events from many different points of view. I hope you will continue to
put into practice what we’ve done here today as you do your Point-of-View writing. These writings will be
in forms like a diary, a journal, a dialogue between one character and another character, or following the
format of the novel itself, but narrated in the first-person by a different character. Let’s read through the
FAQ’s and description of this POV Write assignment.” Read through it, then ask, “What are your
questions?” Answer any questions. Then say, “Go ahead and start writing your POV Write. If you don’t
finish it in class, then finish it at home, along with studying your vocabulary.”
HW: Finish the POV write for Chapter Eleven, and continue to study vocabulary.