I thought Jem was counting his chickens.

Tonight, you don’t have any new reading to do.  Rather, I’d like you to review the last few chapters (annotate some more if you are minded to do so) and prepare two EXCELLENT discussion questions for your table.

  • Remember, a good discussion question does not have a single answer.  Good questions lead to interesting conversations.

Also, rather than comment on anyone else in general, look to see if anyone at your table has already commented and look at their questions.  Make sure that yours are not mere repeats.

Once you’ve made sure you have original questions for your table (and no fair just taking a great question from another table, unless you genuinely thought of it yourself), write your questions in the comment box and explain why you think they would be good questions.  In addition, please write each question on a separate piece of looseleaf paper.  We’ll be using them in a class activity.

Mockingbird blog #8

44 thoughts on “I thought Jem was counting his chickens.

  1. After reviewing the last few chapters and going in-depth, two discussion questions I have are as follows:

    What are the motives of Atticus behind knowing if Bob Ewell is ambidextrous, and further, what are his motives for “rattling the jury” throughout the rest of the case?
    If many people are out to get (and possibly lynch) Tom Robinson, will anything of this nature further happen to him? Will he die? Will Atticus further protect him?

    I think these questions are good in terms of analyzing because they really delve deep in the novel, and help us see where the plot is progressing toward. My first question (see above) deals with Atticus’s tactics on court. We know that Atticus has no shot at winning the court case. This is proven when he talks to Scout, stating, ‘“Atticus, are we going to win it?” “No, honey.” “Then why—” “Simply because we were licked a hundred years before we started is no reason for us not to try to win,” Atticus said.” (page 101 ). However, in court he does inquire about Bob Ewell’s ambidextrousness, as well as focusing on how Bob Ewell’s daughter was injured. I believe there is a correlation between these two questions, however it is difficult to tell why Atticus asked them. One thing that I can be sure of is that Atticus knows what he is doing and has a strategy. My second question focuses on the safety of Tom Robinson. As discussed in class, lynching was common in the South during the time period in this book, and the Tom Robinson was certainly targeted for a possibly lynching in the novel already. I believe that an incident like this will not happen again. Tom Robinson was protected by Atticus (and by extension Scout and Jem) and I don’t think the men would even think to attempt another possible assault on Tom after what happened. However, this novel is very good at sudden changes, and anything like a lynching could pop up at anytime over the course of the next few chapters. Going into the next few chapters it will be interesting to see how Atticus handles the court case and if any issues arise over Tom Robinson.

    • These are some really great questions Matt, I’m really excited to go into discussion with them during class! Great job with your blog post tonight.

  2. 1. Why does Atticus choose not to disclose certain facts to Scout and Jem? For example, he doesn’t inform them he had been appointed as Tom Robinsons attorney and had not chosen to, or that he was known as “One-Shot-Finch”.
    2. During Tom Robinson’s trial, Atticus makes it seem as if Robert Ewell was the one who beat up Mayella. If this true, what would be the purpose of it? Why would he beat up his daughter, to whom (it seems like) he feels affection?

    • I think the 1st question would be interesting to discuss since it still seems like we don’t know much about him. He somehow knows whenever Scout or Jem are lying, and he is extremely wise. He also tries to teach lessons to his children so they can be successful in life in the future. I think his choice not to disclose his accomplishments has something to do with this. Atticus doing this also contributes to the lesson Calpurnia teaches Scout and Jem, that even if you know better than someone (even if you’re better than someone), that doesn’t mean you should brag about it.

      I believe my 2nd question would generate good discussion as well because they are currently deeply involved with the Tom Robinson case. Apparently, they’re close to finding that Bob Ewell was the one who beat up Mayella instead of Tom. But if that was the case, this question could challenge the validity of that assumption. In addition, simply seeing that a left-handed person could do more damage is no strong evidence, as noticed by Scout. However, Jem seems to think that Atticus has already won. Then, we could have a better insight of the plot. We know for sure that Tom Robinson won’t win, Atticus himself had said it. However, Jem is still naive enough to think so. This question could lead to several more questions and further develop our understanding.

      • Great questions Tony! I really agree with the way you said that Atticus has hidden parts of his past from Scout and Jem. I look forward to seeing which else of Atticus’s secrets are revealed as we go through the book. I also concur with your second question. It wouldn’t make sense for Ewell to beat Mayella, since he seems to show affection for her. However, we don’t know for sure that Robinson will lose. Especially since Atticus is such a great lawyer, he may just be underestimating himself. We’ll only know for sure once the trial is over. Once again, great questions and keep up the good work!

  3. Once done going through the book and my annotations, some questions I came up with are:
    1. Boo Radley has been mentioned by Harper Lee in this novel many times and from the very beginning, as the story evolves and we learn more about Maycomb and the people in it, how will Boo Radley make his way into the discussion? What will his purpose and contributions to the story be? Any guesses, if so, how did you form that guess from information we already have?

    2. Other than showing us an inside look at who Aunt Alexandra is and how she wants the kids to act and be raised, why do you think she came to Maycomb? Will she have a further character development and be important to the story, if yes: then why? and if now, then why not?

    • I thought your questions were great Ryan, particularly the one about Boo Radley. To be honest, I almost completely forgot about him, as he has not shown up in any recent chapters. It seems that Harper Lee has isolated him for some unknown reason, and it will be interesting to see how the discussion of this plays out in class tomorrow.

  4. On question is
    What is might Atticus’s be trying to accuse Mr. Ewell of? And how would knowing he isn’t left handed help this case?
    This is a good question because there could be many possibilities.
    Another question is
    What does the title mean to the book and how might this end up relating to the book?
    This is a god question because it’s thought provoking.

    • These are great questions. I especially want to know the answer to the second question. Hopefully, the class will try to answer these questions in class.

    • I just realized my first question is worded poorly. It should be
      How might Atticus get people to think Mr.Ewell committed the crime? And how would him being left handed help Atticus do this?

      • I really like your second question, because I wonder the same thing. I feel like I may have an idea of how the title relates to the story, but I’m excited to further discuss possibilities tomorrow in class.

        • My first discussion question is this:
          Why does Mayella distrust Atticus so much, and why does she feel the need to lie about her father being the one who beat her?
          And my second question is as following:
          How do the African Americans in the community feel about everything that is going on, specifically the trial?

          I think that these are good discussion questions because the first one really makes you think about what Mayella’s reasons may be, and what her thoughts are on the whole thing. For the second one, I think it’s a good question because it goes back to our class discussion from today, about different people’s perspective on the same event. In this book, we only get Scout’s perspective on everything, so this question really ignites a deeper thought process as to what the black community is feeling and thinking.

  5. Wow, there have been some great questions so far, and it’s hard to come up with more. One thing I have been wondering about, though, is how Dill fits into the novel. I mean, we already know that the next part of the book is going to be about the Tom Robinson case. But Dill doesn’t really seem to play a major part in that from what we’ve seen so far. So, does Dill have a greater purpose in the novel? Or is he just a catalyst for adventure? Will he, in the end, somehow tie into the Tom Robinson case? Or, more likely, tie in with Boo Radley. And also, we know almost nothing about Dill’s parents. I mean, he said that they don’t care about him and all that, but maybe his parents will play a role later on. I at least want to find out about Dill’s dad. What happened to him, and why is Dill always touchy about that topic?

    • Very interesting! After all this ruckus, I bet that not many people have yet wondered of the significance of Dill’s return! Hopefully, we will learn the answer real soon!

  6. 1) My first question involves Atticus and his parenting views. Atticus always tells the kids that everybody is equal and that they should walk in someone else’s shoes before judging that person. My question is what made Atticus have this mindset? Did something happen in his childhood that provoked it? We know that Atticus was different before the children were born because of the wild dog scene, but we don’t know much about his past in general. I think this will be a good question because so many different things could have happened, and we will be able to generate many ideas as a group.

    2) My second question about the language used in the novel. Harper lee uses complex vocabulary words overall, but the complexity varies from character to character. She uses more complex words for Scout and Miss Maudie in general. Why do you think that those characters specifically have a more extensive vocabulary? I think that this could be a good question because it will make us think about their character and develop on our previous opinions on the characters.

  7. Question 1: Why did Aunt Alexandra want to send Calpurnia away, and seem as if she did not approve of the way Calpurnia has raised the children up?

    Aunt Alexandra starts living with Scout, Jem, Atticus and Calpurnia, and immediately becomes the harsh person in the house. She disapproves of Atticus letting the children wear whatever they want, and is not very tolerant of any behavior that she does not like. Calpurnia has been a great elder figure in Scout and Jem’s lives so far, so I think that this would be a good discussion question. Alexandra does not like the way that Calpurnia raised Scout and Jem, so what would she have done? What would Alexandra have done differently?

    Question 2: When Atticus tells Jem to go home when Scout, Dill and him are in the middle of Atticus’s meeting with the mob, Jem declines to do so. You would think that Atticus would be mad about this, but instead he seems to appreciate Jem standing up for himself and the other children. Why do you think this is the case?

    Scout, Dill and Jem sneak out of the house to check if Atticus is okay. When a mob of people wanting to lynch Tom Robinson show up, Scout quickly runs to Atticus. Jem is not able to stop her, and ends up having to follow her. It was obvious that Atticus really wanted Jem to take Dill and Scout home, but he refused to do so every time he was asked to. In the end, everybody ends up being safe. But, instead of being upset with Jem, Atticus seems to like that Jem declined to go home. “Atticus reached out and massaged Jem’s hair, his one gesture of affection.”(Pg. 207). Most people would be very angry about this kind of situation, so why is Atticus not?

  8. I have a few questions in mind starting with, what does a Mockingbird have to do with the novel. I know that it means innocence and purity, but does it symbolize a person? Does in symbolize Tom Robinson? Also, why is Boo Radley mentioned in the novel right when it seems like the reader would forget? What is his role in the novel? Will Boo Radley remain mysterious or will Lee tell the reader more about him? Does Jem actually know what is going on during the case, or is he just pretending? If he is, how does he know what Atticus is thinking? Did the first one or two chapters of the novel spoil the whole thing? It seems to explain what is currently happening in the novel? Why would Harper Lee do that? Is this an author’s craft move? How will all of Atticus’ unorthodox questions lead him to into winning the case? One last question: How is Harper Lee going to connect Mockingbirds, Tom Robinson, Boo Radley, Dill, Miss Maudie, Jem, Atticus, and Scout?

    • I read through all your question but one stands out like the song of a mockingbird (sorry). It was the firs question. What does a mockingbird have to do with the novel? I remember that earlier we learn that killing a mockingbird is a capital sin. So this could be relating to sins or telling the truth since a mockingbird sings its heart out. When a mockingbird is mentioned in the novel it normally is in a sentence like ” the mockingbirds were silent” which is clearly used as an authors craft move of symbolizing that something fearful or important might happen.

  9. 1. What do Mrs. Dubose’s camellias stand for? I seems to me that they would be a symbol for something, however I am not sure what that something would be. This, I believe will be an interesting discussion question because many people could have many views on what they stand for. I also have began to wonder how this toes in with all the themes in the book such as the killing of mockingbirds. Maybe Mrs. Dubose herself stands for something, however I cannot quite put my finger on it.

    2. What does the Mockingbird stand for in To Kill A Mockingbird? Is it Tom Robinson, or is it innocence itself. Furthermore, if the mockingbird does stand for Tom, then what does he stand for. Is it innocence, or is it societal prejudice? Tom is a major topic of the novel, and yet he is not described in much detail. In fact we only know that he is black, and he is a strong man.

  10. After looking back at the text, I formulated new questions. These questions include:
    In the court scene, why isn’t the judge patient with the case? Is it that he knows what he has to do and he knows the solution to the case or is it that he is just trying to do his job and is trying to show no compassion to the case?
    Could Ewells writing with his left hand be a sign that he abused his daughter and then blamed it on Tom? If so, what does he have against Tom that he would do such a thing?
    Why was it that Atticus was chosen to take this case? Was it an author’s craft move or was it to develop a plot or was it used to show how Atticus is as a lawyer and show how good of a lawyer he is?
    Why is it that Bob said that the bruise started to form quickly when bruises take a long time to take color even though in the first few hours it would be red?
    Lastly, why didn’t Bob get a doctor? If he did, it would make his case way more defendable.

  11. After looking back upon the previous chapters I thought of some interesting questions about those chapters that will be hopefully answered in the book or in class.

    Question(s) 1: We find out earlier in the book that there is going to be a major dispute about the court case that later comes up. Has that dispute already happened or will it appear after the court trial? If that dispute hasn’t yet happened what will it consist of and how will that affect the community? What does this teach us?

    Question(s) 2: In this book racism has appeared to take very deep roots into Malcolm county. Will this case change anything? And if it does is that change likely to help African Americans? Furthermore, will a court ruling stop the residents from taking their own form of justice against Tom Robinson, and what would that say about Malcolm County? What does this teach us?

    The first question is mainly about the internal structure of this book. Throughout the novel we are hinted at some conflict and that could likely be this novel’s climax. That dispute may also show us the town values depending on the details surrounding it. Overall, for that questions, I feel it will act as an important area that the entire novel may have been built around. The second question is mainly about civil rights. How bad is segregation at this time. We may only be getting a partial view at this from Harper Lee but we definitely learn something. About segregation and how deeply it is rooted, what will matter more a court ruling or the idea of segregation? We may have learned about racism in class but that only gives me the incentive to delve deeper. Through this question we will learn a lot more about our beloved country and about the people in it. This is a part of history which this novel is meant to teach us. If we are going to learn about why not learn as much as we can?

  12. While reading To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, many questions came to my mind.
    1. Why do you think this novel is titled, To Kill a Mockingbird, and how does the story relate to the mockingbird we read about previously.
    2. What author’s craft moves did you notice or expect later on? Do you believe that Harper Lee is trying to convey something hidden in the text?
    3. How do you think this novel compares to Great Expectations, your knowledge of American History in the 1900s?

  13. 1. Segregation of the African Americans in this novel seem to be very important. I wonder if we see change throughout the next chapters of this novel.

    2. What is the significance of the court scene with Atticus defending Tom Robinson? (Going back to the first question) would this case change people’s way of viewing black people?

    This questions are important because we need to start thinking about how the book will progress and how each character is growing throughout the novel. By doing so, we can understand each character better and how they are impacted by their moral universe.
    I wonder why Lee put in some scenes in the novel. She wouldn’t have put it there for no reason, so let’s analyze!

    • Great questions! Reading your blog helped me come to a theory that Atticus’ case will maybe help cause a change in how people with colored skin are viewed or maybe something will change along the lines of the book and people will slowly stop segregating. I guess we just have to continue reading to find out.

  14. As we read farther into the story, more questions start sprouting.
    As Jem starts to change from a troublesome boy to a gentleman, will it start to influence Scout to act more like a lady, or act like a boy more than ever?
    How will Scout respond with Jem suddenly acting more superior, making their relationship seem like walking on a tight-rope?
    With Atticus’s intriguing case, does he actually have a chance of winning it?
    What will be of Tom Robinson: will he lose the case, will he actually win it, or will he be killed before the case made a close?
    I’d like to hopefully no more about what we are about to be heading into!

  15. Question #1) What does Atticus find so peculiar about the fact that neither Mr. Ewell or Mr. Tate called a doctor when Mayella got hurt?

    I know it might not be significant, but in last night’s blog I wrote about this question. I don’t really understand why Atticus made such a big deal about it. He asked Mr. Tate multiple times if he had called a doctor, and Mr. Tate said no. Atticus also asked Mr. Ewell if he ran to get a doctor, but Mr. Ewell also said no. Why is Atticus so focused on that?

    Question #2) Why is Jem acting so distant towards Scout and Dill?

    It might be because he has gotten more mature, but I don’t think that’s it. Scout is getting really depressed because her childhood friend and brother acts like he doesn’t care about her. Sure they talk sometimes, but Jem mostly minds his own business. He also snaps at her more often. Before, they had a really friendly relationship, but now he yells at her more than he ever did before. I really want to know why Jem is suddenly grown so distant to Scout and Dill.

    • In answer to question 1, I think it’s because Atticus finds it suspicious. I would too. When you see someone heavily beat on the floor, I would imagine that your first instinct is to see if they’re alright, and then call a doctor to help. I think Atticus asked this because he didn’t entirely know what to make his case about, and wanted to call out everything that seemed suspicious to him.

  16. Describe Atticus’s strategies in court and how they reflect his character?
    If the accusations prove to be false, who is truly to blame Mr Ewell or Mayella? Why?
    I think these are good questions because we can discuss in depth the inner workings of the trial to understand its complexities in greater detail. It’s not as black and white as it seems the outcome of this case effects everyone, and there is definitely more to discuss with the trials

  17. While reading, To Kill a Mockingbird, I had a couple of thoughts…
    1. What do Mrs. Dubose’s camelias symbolize? We talked about it briefly but we never really come to that “aha” moment where we come to the realization. Will it ever come up in the novel?

    2. What happened during Atticus’ childhood like? We only know certain clues, something like he was raised to be very manly as he shot the dog with exact precision. But, he doesn’t want his kids to be raised that way. So, what happened during that time of his life that caused him to change? Was he always like this?

  18. My discussion questions are involving the behavior of the court case. Scout seems to question whether or not Atticus is making a good case, and Jem seems positive they’ve already won. This question brings up personality, and perhaps Scout isn’t seeing the connections to the questions. Or, maybe she just thinks that the argument is weak or will not suffice to the jury. Maybe it could be a warning of some sort, saying that even though the connections are there, Tom Robinson will still get convicted. Also, when they decide to stay in the negro section since there is no room in the white section, the African Americans move to the side so the three kids have from row seats. Could this be generosity, or is it fear of getting in trouble? These questions are interesting because they reveal motives and traits, along with plot developments.

    • these are great questions! and they are different from mine which is great because we can have a discussion with many different aspects.

  19. After my review, I would like to discuss how Atticus could be a good role model for Scout, although she must be a lady, and places in the past chapters that could have been references to racism. Both of these things I’ve wrote about in my blog posts recently, and I think that we have discussed who could be a female figure in Scout’s life, but we haven’t discussed how Atticus can rear a lady on his own. Scout does listen and obey Atticus, and it helps her become more mature. He told her to fight with her head and not her fists, and she listened. He taught her to talk about what others are interested in, and this lesson saved Atticus and Tom Robinson, because Scout did that to Mr. Cunningham and his entailment. Atticus also has good morals, and is wise, and has a good set of values. And for the references to racism, I was curious to see what the people at my table saw in the text that could have symbolized racism. For example, I noticed that Scout said that when the courthouse was destroyed and the columns were remaining, she said that town would do anything to hold on to things from the past. I thought that Maycomb “holding on to things from the past,” meant that they held on to racism and their prejudices.

    • You refer to Atticus’ gender being a problem in order to rear a lady, but maybe being a gentleman and being a lady aren’t so different after all? Being a gentleman or a lady both require that same, strong, moral guide, as well as to act in a utmost respectful and civilized manner. In terms of morals, being a lady does not differ so greatly in my mind.

  20. 1) We saw in previous chapters that Atticus was once the great sharpshooter of the town of Maycomb. Everybody knew it except for the kids, Jem Scout, and Dill. This is evident by their confusion and that Heck Tate, the shriff, at once came to Atticus to have the dog shot. This shows this was about a couple of decades ago, and that it was so impressive that people remember Atticus for being a grade A sharpshooter. This also shows that Atticus purposely didn’t tell Jem and Scout. Atticus then teaches them a lesson that courage is not a man holding a gun, but persevering with what is right, no matter how bad the outlook. But My question is: what made Atticus stop? Was it because he had kids? Or maybe, did sinister happen, a horrible mistake?
    2)May be I just skipped over it in the reading like the idiot that I am, but I don’t recall any mention of Jem and Scout mother. Atticus is probably their most important moral beacon, and as a result the most influential adult in their lives, being their father. But there is no mention anywhere of the mother. Did she run away, did she divorce, or maybe, Atticus isn’t really their father at all, and Jem and Scout are adopted? The most interesting thought is that is might have something to do with Atticus’ sharpshooting career.

  21. My first question is about the tree. Do you think that Jem knew who was putting things in the tree? I really like this question because so much happens with the tree and I think it is very important, but we kind of just skipped over it.

    My second question is about Jem and the Robinson v. Ewell case. Dones Jem actually know what’s going on, or is he just acting? I think it would be interesting to hear what other people think, because I myself haven’t decided. It would also further our knowledge of Jem’s character.

  22. I have read through all the questions and I love that there an be multiple theories for each one. My big question is what is Dill’s significance to the story? Right now he is just that really fun friend the Finch’s love having around, but I predict he will be more important in future events. Also, what does Aunt Alexandra think of the case? Does she support Atticus or does she believe Tom is guilty. I Know she doesn’t support all of Atticus’s decisions, but her views might be different in this case.

  23. 1. What is really happening with Dill’s family? Why has he been making lies up about his father and mother, and travels away to his aunt all summer? Maybe that is why Dill lies so much? What’s really happening with him at home?

    2. Is Boo Radley tied o anything underlying that is happening in the book? For the past few chapters, we’ve been focusing more on Tom Robinson’s case, and I would like to see if Tha relates to Boo Radley at all, if it does. In the end, will it all tie together and make sense in the end? Wil we get back to the mystery of Boo Radley?

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