This editable 16-question close reading exercise helps students derive deeper meaning from the twenty-second chapter of To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Students will draw rational inferences about characters, interpret figurative language, define complex vocabulary in context, demonstrate an improved understanding of the trial’s effect on several characters, and more by completing this activity. Two abridged passages are featured: one focusing on the immediate post-trial interaction between Atticus and Alexandra, the other on Jem’s reaction to the trial’s outcome. An answer key is included, as are Word Document and Google Document versions of the assessment.
Questions pertain to the following:
- Drawing logical inferences: Alexandra’s commitment to maintaining a feminine, traditionally Southern aesthetic.
- Drawing logical inferences: Scout’s ignorance of her brother’s visceral reaction to the verdict.
- Understanding character intent: Atticus’s implicit acknowledgement of his predictability and steadiness.
- Discerning meaning from what the text explicitly states: “‘This is their home, sister,’ said Atticus. ‘We’ve made it this way for them, they might as well learn to cope with it.’”
- Understanding character intent: Atticus’s desire to help Alexandra intellectualize the reality of Jim Crow society.
- Drawing logical inferences: Alexandra’s continued misjudgment of her brother.
- Defining vocabulary in context: bleakly.
- Analyzing character: Atticus indicates belief in the fact that racism is a learned behavior, not a quality that is innate at birth.
- Isolating accurate statements from false statements: Aunt Rachel’s suggestion that Atticus’s professional efforts were fruitless.
- Defining vocabulary in context: cynical.
- Isolating accurate statements from false statements: Scout is maddened by Jem’s despairing behavior.
- Defining vocabulary in context: diction.
- Discerning meaning from what the text explicitly states: “…settled her bridgework.”
- Defining vocabulary in context: fatalistic.
- Interpreting figurative language (metaphor): “It’s like bein’ a caterpillar in a cocoon.”
- Analyzing character: Maudie’s belief that there is hope for positive change in the American justice system.
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.