Socratic Seminar Questions Tkam

Period 6 Nieto Socratic Seminar Questions TKAM
1) Discuss Atticus’s parenting style. What is his relationship to his children like? How does he seek to instill conscience in them?
a. Atticus is a wise man, committed to justice and equality, and his parenting style is based on fostering these virtues in his children—he even encourages Jem and Scout to call him “Atticus” so that they can interact on terms as equal as possible. Throughout the novel, Atticus works to develop Scout’s and Jem’s respective consciences, through both teaching, as when he tells Scout to put herself in a person’s shoes before she judges them.

2) Analyze the trial scene and its relationship to the rest of the novel.
b. To Kill a Mockingbird explores the questions of innocence and harsh experience, good and evil, from several different angles. Tom Robinson’s trial explores these ideas by examining the evil of racial prejudice, its ability to poison an otherwise admirable Southern town and destroy an innocent man, and its effect on young Jem and Scout.
3) Discuss the author’s portrayal of the black community and the characters of Calpurnia and Tom Robinson. Are they realistic or idealized?
c. The black community in Maycomb is quite idealized, especially in the scenes at the black church and in the “colored balcony” during the trial. Lee’s portrayal of the black community isn’t unrealistic or unbelievable; it is important to point out, however, that she emphasizes all of the good qualities of the community without ever pointing out any of the bad ones. The black community is shown to be loving, affectionate, welcoming, pious, honest, hardworking, and close-knit. Calpurnia and Tom, members of this community, possess remarkable dignity and moral courage.
4) Explain why Jem crys when the hole in the tree is filled with cement?
d. Boo Radley uses the knothole in the tree to leave gifts for Jem and his sister Scout. This is his only way to connect with them as he keeps himself isolated in the house. Seeing Mr Radley fill the hole with cement is like filling in the hole between their two worlds and Jem is sad to lose this link.
5) When is Scout first exposed to “the real world” of racism and inequality?
e. Chapter 10 when Cecil Jacobs talks about niggers and when she gets in the fight with fransis
6) Although Atticus did not want his children in court, he defends Jem’s right to know what has happened. Explain, in your own words, Atticus’s reasons for this
f. Atticus feels that the adults have made the world the way that it is and the children have to learn to live in that world. They can’t hide from it and need to be exposed to it as early as possible.
7) Miss Maudie tells Jem that “things are never as bad as they seem. ” What reasons does she give for this view?
g. She names all of the people who helped Tom Robinson, such as the black community, Atticus, and Judge Taylor.
8) Why does Bob Ewell feel so angry with Atticus? Do you think his threat is a real one, and how might he try to “get” Atticus?
h. He feels Atticus made him look bad in front of the entire town. This threat was meant to get a reaction from Atticus; however, Atticus just kept his head up.
9) What do you think of Atticus’s reaction to Bob Ewell’s challenge? Should he have ignored Bob, retaliated or done something else?
i. He did the right thing by walking away. Bob was looking for a fight and Atticus wouldn’t give it to him.
10) What does Atticus tell Scout about why the jury took so long to convict Tom?
j. He tells her that a Cunningham was on the jury and didn’t want to convict. The jury actually had to think about the conviction before they did it because the case was based on purely circumstantial evidence.
11) Why does Aunt Alexandra accept that the Cunninghams may be good but are not “our kind of folks”? Do you think that people should mix only with others of the same social class?
k. She tells Scout that they are not people that the Finch family should associate with because they are lower class. People should be able to socialize with whoever they want, even if they are in a different social class.
12) Compare the reactions of Miss Maudie and the other ladies when Scout says she is wearing her “britches” under her dress.
l. Miss Maudie takes Scout seriously and only laughs at Scout when she intends to be funny. The other ladies choose to make fun of Scout.
13) How, in this chapter, do we see Aunt Alexandra in a new light? How does Miss Maudie support her?
m. Aunt Alexandra shows concern for Atticus and Tom. Miss Maudie gives her a pep talk and gets her to go back to the meeting.
14) Explain the contrast Scout draws between the court where Tom was tried and “the secret courts of men’s hearts”. In what way are hearts like courts?
n. In a true court of law everyone should receive a fair trial, but people’s hearts are not dictated by law; they are dictated by feeling.
15) In her lesson on Hitler, Miss Gates says that “we (American people) don’t believe in persecuting anyone”. What seems odd to the reader about this claim?
o. The town just persecuted a black man for being black. He was convicted and sentenced to death with no real evidence.

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