Tuesday, February 25, 2014



To Kill a Mockingbird is set during the Great Depression of the 1930s, a time of widespread discrimination, especially in the American south. How has the author, Harper Lee, used characters and events in the novel to reinforce the accepted practice of discrimination?

USING THE ANALYTICAL STRUCTURE OF C.T.A., P.E.E.L and T.A.G., a model answer could read something like this...

C(ontext) -
  • Broad Statement on the essay focus. 
  • General statement identifying the text, author and plot summary
T(hesis) - 
 Your personal response/statement to the question. All paragraphs must link back to the Thesis.

A(rguments) -
Usually 3 main Points which support your thesis in the form of topic sentences.


The Great Depression was an event that affected many countries in the 1930s. When the stockmarket crashed, the economic repercussions were felt worldwide. It was a hard time, as people struggled to put food on the table and a roof over their heads. This depression was the major background event to the storyline of To Kill a Mockingbird, where the main character and narrator, Scout Finch, lives with her older brother Jem and her widowed father Atticus in a small town, Maycomb County. Atticus, a lawyer, makes just enough to keep the family comfortably out of the poverty that affects many of the townspeople. The central theme of the novel is how a white lawyer, Atticus, defends a black man, Tom Robinson, who is accused of raping Mayella Ewell, the daughter of a poor, notoriously vicious man, Bob Ewell. Racial tensions in Maycomb flare, Scout and Jem become targets of abuse from the townspeople, and the generally accepted discrimination rises to the surface. In her novel, Harper Lee uses characters such as Aunt Alexandra, Dolphus Raymond and Mrs Dubose to demonstrate sexism, prejudice and racism. The character Aunt Alexandra combines sexism with racism, Dolphus Raymond suffers the town's prejudice as he lives with a black woman and Mrs Dubose's long-held racist attitudes are typical of the townspeople.

YELLOW - broad statement on the topic
BROWN - general statement on the topic
GREEN - plot summary
PINK - thesis
 BLUE - arguments (3) using characters (3)


POINT ONE - Aunt Alexander

From the time she arrives at Atticus' Finch's house to turn Scout into a lady, Aunt Alexander's sexist and racist attitudes are obvious. 

  • go on to explain her opinions re Scout (sexism) while leaving Jem alone
  • explain her dislike of having Calpurnia in charge of the children (racism)
  • give one example (quote) to reveal her sexist/racist attitudes

POINT TWO - Dolphus Raymond

Dolphus Raymond demonstrates how prejudice blinds the townsfolk who are determined to think the worst of him because of his choice of a black woman and how he has fathered two coloured children. 

  • explain the hierarchy of the town with black people on the bottom
  • explain how long-held attitudes allow the prejudice towards Dolphus
  • explain why he pretends to drink whisky and be drunk 
  • give an example - from his chat to the children outside the courthous explaining how children would understand him, but adults (long-held prejudices) wouldn't. 

POINT THREE - Mrs Dubose

Mrs Henry Lafayette Dubose is an old and bitter woman,  a neighbour of Atticus Finch, and sees no problem with expressing her racist views, even to Scout and Jem.

  • explain the character of Mrs Dubose, yelling at the children when they walk by
  • explain why Jem has to read to her
  • give example of her racist attitudes towards Atticus, Tom Robinson- quote


T(hesis) - revisit
A(rguments) - essay summary, revisit Introduction
G(eneral statement) to wrap up essay.

Like Mrs Dubose, the townsfolk of Maycomb County have long accepted discrimination as a way of life. The trial of Tom Robinson is the polarising event, which brings these racist attitudes to the surface.


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