To Kill a Mockingbird Motif 5-Paragraph Essay
Motif - a unifying idea that is a recurrent element in literary work; "it was the usual `boy gets girl' theme," a distinctive
idea, especially a theme elaborated on in a piece of literature, a recurrent thematic element in a literary work.
Choose the ONE motif that has the best evidence and to which you feel a strong connection.
Topic Choices for the Essay: Courage Prejudice (race, gender, socioeconomic)
You will have a topic (choose one motif from the list above) and you will have to provide three pieces of evidence from the book. We
will work together to locate a wide variety of evidence for each motif, and we will share page numbers and quotes in class.
As with the previous essay, you will have to complete the outline in a specific order. My method is much more logical than just
starting with the introduction. Trust me. Use the formula I created. It will make you a stronger writer.
Complete the outline in this manner:
1. Choose the evidence and record page numbers in MLA style.
2. Put the evidence in the outline in the most logical order; order of importance, chronological, by intensity…
3. Write several versions of the thesis statement and choose the one that best illustrates the three ways the motif can
be seen in the novel. It can be a three point thesis or an all-encompassing statement. Write the best one in the
outline at the end of the introductory paragraph.
4. Now write a topic sentence for each body paragraph that states how the motif can be seen in the evidence. Keep it
simple for the first draft of the outline.
5. Before each piece of evidence, write sub-points that give background to the quote. Explain what happens in the
story before the quote.
6. Next, reread each body paragraph and think of a few words or part of sentence that could introduce your quote.
The introduction should start the sentence that the quote finishes.
7. The hard part: commentary. Write a sentence that flows from the quote and explains how the action or thoughts in
the quote is evidence of the motif.
8. Now that you’re done with the body paragraphs, you only have to do the intro and conclusion and transitions.
9. The most important parts of the intro and conclusion are the thesis statement and the restated thesis. The thesis
must be that last sentence in the introduction and the first sentence in the conclusion. You’ve already chosen one
for the intro. Now choose a different version for the conclusion.
10. In the introduction, introduce the author and the book by saying something about each – underline the book title
when hand writing. You will italicize the title instead when you type the paper.
11. In the conclusion, summarize your evidence and summarize the end of the book.
12. Finally - Now that you have all of your content in the paper, you can write the transition sentences. Reread the
paragraph before the transition and think about the first sentence in the next paragraph. Find a way to tie the two
ideas together in a single sentence without giving away the topic sentence coming up next.
13. Next you have to think about the attention grabber—the first sentence of the paper. What can you use from the
real world that will guide the reader to your tiny topic? Choose something related to your topic. Find a way to refer
to the attention grabber by sort of completing its thought. Make sure it ties in and flows with the paragraph, too.
14. When you write the first draft, improve on it, and make the paper flow from one part to the next.
15. We will do the Works Cited page together.