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To Kill a Mockingbird: Assignment

Guide to support the study of the novel To Kill a Mockingbird


In order to better appreciate this novel, it is essential that you have a better understanding of the historical context in which it was written. Below are the topics that you have been assigned to research. Some of these topics are too large research in a great deal of detail in the three days that you have been given. This is why they have been divided into sub-topics or essential questions. Each member of your group is responsible for researching one of these questions.

The Great Depression #1

The Great Depression was a worldwide financial crisis that lasted a decade. It was caused by numerous, complicated economic events. Here are some things to consider to help your classmates understand this era:

  • The Stock Market Crash of 1929
  • Bank failures
  • How was life in towns and cities affected?



The American Civil War (and its aftermath)


The American Civil War was a four year war fought from 1861 to 1865 between the United States and 11 southern states that seceded from the Union. It had a profound affect on society in the US in the years that followed it. Here are some things to consider about this war and how it relates to the context of the novel To Kill a Mockingbird:

  • What was the war about?
  • What was "Reconstruction"?
  • How did the end of the war affect the southern states?


The Civil Right's Movement in the US

Browse the some of the books detailing the African-American Civil Rights Movement in the United States and choose four key events for your poster. Some things to look at might be:

  • Birmingham, 1963
  • The Montgomery Bus Boycott
  • The March on Washington

The Great Depression #2

Some more things to consider when trying to understand the Great Depression:

  • The Dust Bowl
  • How was life in the country affected (farmers, farm workers etc.)
  • How did the nation and the world finally recover from the crisis

Society in the 1930's


Role of women


Daily Life (particularly in the southern states)

Monumental Court Cases

Much of the plot in To Kill a Mockingbird revolves around a court case. Research the following three monumental court cases:

  • Plessy v. Ferguson
  • The Scottsboro Boys
  • Brown v. Board of Education

Describe what happened, when it happened, who was involved and what the impact of the case was

Politics in the 1930's

  • Who were some of the important people on the American political scene in the 1930's?
  • What was the "New Deal"?
  • What social programs were put into place to help people get back to work?
  • What were some of the events taking place in Europe at this time?



African-Americans in the 1930's

Things to consider for this topic:

  • Race relations
  • Jim Crow laws in the South
  • African-Americans and the Great Depression
  • How did life differ for African-American in the North and South.

Harper Lee and To Kill A Mockingbird



For this topic consider:

  • Harper Lee's personal and professional life
  • To Kill a Mockingbird: critiques and accolades
  • To Kill a Mockingbird: genres (it has been classed as Southern Gothic and as a Bildungsroman. What does this mean?)