Discussion Questions for 3/26: To Kill a Mockingbird through Ch. 14

The questions I asked on Tuesday still very much apply to the reading we’re doing for tomorrow. I’m especially eager to have you think about some of the specific moments in which Atticus’s three identities – lawyer, father, moral hero – get fused. During our virtual discussion on Tuesday (thanks to those of you who were able to join!) I suggested that we get a little more specific about what his heroism is comprised of – where it comes from, what kind of idealization of Atticus is possible in the text, and what the limits to his heroism might be. More broadly: what are the contours (and the limits) of the kind of liberalism that Atticus, and perhaps the novel, espouse? How critical is this novel (particularly the first half) of the institutions that structure life in Maycomb for Scout in the 1930s?

The words “lady” and “gentleman” come up a lot in the reading for tomorrow. How and why? Where do those terms come from? What purchase do they have and for whom? And what might they have to do with Tom Robinson’s trial, which by Ch. 14 is coming into partial view?

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