To Kill a Mockingbird is a classic American novel written by Harper Lee and published in 1960 It tells the story of Atticus Finch, a lawyer in a small town in Alabama, and his children, Scout and Jem, who witness the trial of a black man falsely accused of assaulting a white woman. The novel shines a light on the racial injustice that was prevalent in the Deep South during the 1930s and explores themes of courage, morality, and justice.
1. How does Harper Lee use language to reveal the prejudices of 1930s Alabama? This essay topic could explore Lee’s use of dialect and point of view to depict the various characters and the racism they experience. It could also examine the ways in which language is used to caricature the characters or to challenge stereotypes.
2. Analyze the characters of Atticus Finch, Boo Radley and Tom Robinson. This essay topic could look closely at how these characters are portrayed in the novel and how they interact with each other. It could explore the characteristics that define each character, how they are each treated by the townspeople, and how they confront the systemic racism in their world.
3. How does the novel portray the effects of racism on children? This essay topic could focus on how Scout and Jem are affected by racism, from their conversations with adults to the lessons of morality they learn from their father. It could also explore their reactions to the trial and the consequences that result, as well as the ways in which they begin to internalize racism.
4. Examine the significance of the title, “To Kill a Mockingbird.” This essay topic could discuss how the title of the novel reflects the theme of injustice and how it serves as a metaphor for the mistreatment of African Americans in the Deep South. It could also explore the symbolic meaning of the mockingbird, a representation of innocence, and the cruelty of racism.
5. Analyze the themes of courage and morality in To Kill a Mockingbird. This essay topic could examine how courage is defined by the various characters in the novel, and how it is demonstrated in meaningful ways. It could also explore the concept of morality, from Atticus’s courtroom defense of Tom Robinson to Scout’s reflections on the unfairness of it all.