Practice Essay Questions For To Kill A Mockingbird
Below you will find five outstanding thesis statements / paper topics on “To Kill a Mockingbird” that can be used as essay starters. All five incorporate at least one of the themes found in “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee and are broad enough so that it will be easy to find textual support, yet narrow enough to provide a focused clear thesis statement. These thesis statements for “To Kill a Mockingbird” offer a short summary of different elements that could be important in an essay but you are free to add your own analysis and understanding of the plot or themes to them. Using the essay topics below in conjunction with the list of important quotes from To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, you should have no trouble connecting with the text and writing an excellent essay.>
*Note: Additional Quotes from this and other books can be found easily in books online *
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #1: Notions of Justice and Fairness in “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee
Despite the unwavering dedication of Atticus Finch in “To Kill a Mockingbird”, the absence of evidence, and a moving courtroom speech, Tom Robinson is convicted of a crime that he did not commit. This jury ruling causes both those who advocated Robinson’s conviction and those who were convinced of his innocence to question their notions of justice and fairness. As if a false conviction was not enough, Tom is eventually killed, and the sense of justice and fairness seem to be completely violated. Write an argumentative essay on “To Kill a Mockingbird” in which you establish what Lee is trying to convey regarding these two concepts that are so important to civil society. Questions that you might want to consider include: If justice and fairness are so elusive, how can Atticus and Scout continue to believe in them?, and Are justice and fairness conflicting concepts in “To Kill a Mockingbird”?Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #2: The Various Forms of Discrimination in To Kill a Mockingbird
The most obvious form of discrimination in To Kill a Mockingbird is racism; however, there are other types of prejudice and discrimination that typify relationships among the novel’s characters. Scout, for example, is ridiculed in “To Kill a Mockingbird” because she is a tomboy. Boo Radley is ostracized despite the fact that hardly anyone knows him. Reverse racism is also present in the novel, as evidenced by the threats against Atticus Finch and his family as he defends Tom Robinson. Take one or more of the forms of discrimination in To Kill a Mockingbird and write an analytic essay in which you explain the forms and, if applicable, compare and contrast the types of discrimination. You should argue whether the lessons about discrimination that Scout learns are applicable to all types of prejudice, or whether they apply to racism alone.
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #3: The Moral Development of Scout and Jem in “To Kill a Mockingbird”
Scout and her brother Jem are both children of the morally passionate lawyer, Atticus Finch, and both are exposed to the same experiences that shape their sense of right and wrong. Yet Scout and Jem come to dramatically different conclusions about good and evil and the essential nature of humankind. Write an expository essay on “To Kill a Mockingbird” in which you develop an understanding of how Scout and Jem arrive at such disparate concepts of the world. Be sure to consider not only the final worldview at which each arrives, but to look at the novel as a whole and identify how their belief systems develop. Include relevant quotations that demonstrate how, despite their shared experiences, Scout and Jem begin to part ways, philosophically speaking, early in the novel.
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #4 The Role of Place in To Kill a Mockingbird
The town of Maycomb is described in great detail in “To Kill a Mockingbird”, so much so that the reader gets the sense that Maycomb is more than a setting; it takes on the weight and importance of a character. Write an expository or persuasive essay on “To Kill a Mockingbird” in which you describe Maycomb and explain its significance with respect to the events and meaning of the novel. Be sure to dig beneath the surface: it’s easy to say that Maycomb is a Southern town and that certain social dynamics—such as racism—shape the characters and their circumstances, but there are also more subtle characteristics about the town that exert influence over the novel’s outcome. Finally, consider whether Maycomb is changed by the conclusion. It shapes people and events, but it is also shaped by its inhabitants and their actions.
Thesis Statement/Essay Topic #5: Character Analysis of Atticus Finch
One of the most inspiring characters in 20th century American literature is Atticus Finch. A morally upright lawyer, a committed and loving father, and an overall good citizen, Finch is regarded highly by most citizens with a sense of justice. Write an essay in which you analyze Atticus Finch’s character. You may wish to focus the content of your essay by selecting a single quote or passage (consider a portion of the courtroom speech, for instance) and explaining how it reflects Finch’s character strengths. Address whether Finch has any flaws, and explain how he conveys his beliefs to his children and his community.
* For an outstanding essay/article analyzing the character of Atticus Finch,click here *
As part of the study of To Kill a Mockingbird, you will be writing an essay on one aspect of the novel. You will be given some class time to work on the essay and you will be given specific instruction on essay writing. The final product will be graded for content, organization, expression, mechanics. You will be given additional marks for collecting quotations, preparing an outline and writing a rough draft.
Choose one of the following topics:
1. Examine the use of the mockingbird as a symbol in the novel. What does the mockingbird symbolize? Which three characters can be considered “mockingbirds?”
2. At the end of the novel, Scout thinks that “Jem and I would get grown but there wasn’t much else left for us to learn” (Lee. 1982, p.282). What important lessons have either Scout or Jem learnt from Atticus’ defence of Tom Robinson and the events surrounding the trial?
3. What does the novel have to say about “courage?” Who are the courageous characters in To Kill a Mockingbird, and how do they demonstrate their courage? What is Harper Lee’s message about real courage?
4. Several times Atticus emphasizes the need to consider things from another’s point of view. How does following his advice change the children’s opinions of other people in Maycomb? What is the author’s underlying message about seeing things from another’s viewpoint?
5. As the novel progresses, Scout and Jem come to understand and value Atticus. What events cause this development of the children’s admiration for their father? How does each event contribute to their understanding of Atticus?
6. Examine the theme of prejudice in To Kill a Mockingbird. How is prejudice demonstrated in the story and by whom? What is the author’s underlying message about prejudice?
7. Examine the theme of hypocrisy in the novel. How is hypocrisy demonstrated in the story and by whom? What is the author’s underlying message about hypocrisy?
*Your essay must make specific references to the novel and use direct quotations (with citations) to support your arguments.
*Essay length: 500 words with a minimum of 5 citations
For more great resources, please see my full unit plan for To Kill a Mockingbird.
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