This editable 12-question close reading exercise helps students derive deeper meaning from the eleventh chapter of To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. By engaging in this activity, students will draw rational inferences about characters, apply literary devices with an emphasis on situational irony, define complex vocabulary in context, and more. One abridged passage is featured: one focusing on Mrs. Dubose’s treatment of the kids, Jem’s retaliation, and Jem’s subsequent internal conflict. An answer key with detailed rationale for each correct choice is included, as are Word and PDF versions of the assessment.
Questions pertain to the following:
- Clarifying meaning: “What has this world come to when a Finch goes against his own raising?”
- Clarifying meaning: “Jem was scarlet.”
- Clarifying meaning: “We were followed by a philippic on our family’s moral degeneration, the major premise of which was that half the Finches were in the asylum anyway…”
- Clarifying meaning: “self-conscious rectitude.”
- Clarifying meaning: “as a matter of course.”
- Defining vocabulary in context: interdict.
- Applying literary devices: situational irony and the relationship between Jessie and Mrs. Dubose.
- Clarifying meaning: “By some voo-doo system Calpurnia seemed to know all about it.”
- Clarifying meaning: “a less than satisfactory source of palliation.”
- Analyzing the greater significance of details: “He sat by the windows, hunched down in a rocking chair, scowling, waiting. Daylight faded.”
- Analyzing character and citing textual evidence in support of a claim: Jem’s feelings of guilt.
This resource aligns well to Adolescent Literacy Project teaching principles. I recommend using these worksheets as the basis for small-group discussions, letting students discuss, debate, and support their reasoning for answer choices. In the role of facilitator, I observe my students becoming more consistently engaged with the novel and taking greater ownership of their learning.
In addition to helping students gain deeper understanding of the material and greater confidence in their ability to read harder texts, this resource may prepare students for ACT-style questioning.