This editable 8-question close reading exercise helps students derive deeper meaning from the eighteenth chapter of To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Students will draw rational inferences about characters, analyze the author’s craft, define complex vocabulary in context, demonstrate an improved understanding of the trial’s proceedings, and more by completing this activity. Two abridged passages are featured: one focusing on Mayella’s struggle to comprehend Atticus’s motives during cross-examination, the other focusing on Atticus’s suddenly aggressive cross-examination. An answer key with rationale for correct options is included, as are Word and PDF versions of the assessment.
Questions pertain to the following:
- Drawing logical inferences about characters: the perpetual absence of compassion and courtesy in Mayella’s life.
- Defining vocabulary in context: pangs.
- Discerning meaning from what the text explicitly states: “…subsided to grudging neutrality.”
- Drawing logical inferences about characters: Mayella’s lack of familiarity with genuine love and its influence on her ability to answer questions.
- Drawing logical inferences about characters: Bob’s intimidating presence and its effect on his own child.
- Defining vocabulary in context: arid.
- Discerning character intent: “What did you father see in the window, the crime of rape or the best defense to it?”
- Isolating factual statements from false statements: this question has students consider the cross-examination, Atticus’s intentions, and the overall tone of the passage.
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.