2 Apr 2013

To Kill a Mockingbird Exam Questions, AQA, OCR, WJEC

Find our site here...
WJEC Style Questions

Answer part (a) and either part (b) or part (c).
You are advised to spend about 20 minutes on part (a), and about 40 minutes on part (b) or part (c).

(a) Read the extract on the opposite page. Then answer the following question:

Look closely at how Atticus speaks and behaves here. What does it reveal about his
character? [10]
(b) Imagine you are Jem. Some time after the end of the novel, you think back over its events. Write down your thoughts and feelings. Remember how Jem would speak when you write your answer. [20]
(c) How does Harper Lee present the theme of justice in To Kill a Mockingbird? [20]
I was beginning to notice a subtle change in my father these days, that came out when he talked with Aunt Alexandra. It was a quiet digging in, never outright irritation. There was a faint starchiness in his voice when he said, ‘Anything fit to say at the table’s fit to say in front of Calpurnia. She knows what she means to this family.’
‘I don’t think it’s a good habit, Atticus. It encourages them. You know how they talk among themselves. Everything that happens in this town’s out to the Quarters before sundown.’  up to  ‘You see, don’t you,’ said Aunt Alexandra, ‘what comes of things like this. Don’t say I haven’t told you.’
Atticus said he’d never say that, pushed out his chair and got up. ‘There’s a day ahead, so excuse me. Jem, I don’t want you and Scout downtown today, please.’

Answer part (a) and either part (b) or part (c).
You are advised to spend about 20 minutes on part (a), and about 40 minutes on part (b) or part (c). (a) Read the extract on the opposite page. Then answer the following question:
With close reference to the extract, show how Harper Lee suggests Aunt Alexandra’s character here. [10]
(b) For which character in To Kill A Mockingbird do you have the most sympathy? Show how Harper Lee’s presentation of your chosen character creates sympathy for him or her. [20]
(c) How does Harper Lee present childhood in To Kill A Mockingbird? [20
‘Put my bag in the front bedroom, Calpurnia,’ was the first thing Aunt Alexandra said. ‘Jean Louise, stop scratching your head,’ was the second thing she said.
Calpurnia picked up Aunty’s heavy suitcase and opened the door. ‘I’ll take it,’ said Jem, and took it. I heard the suitcase hit the bedroom floor with a thump. The sound had a dull permanence about it.
‘Have you come for a visit, Aunty?’ I asked. Aunt Alexandra’s visits from the Landing were rare, and she travelled in state. She owned a bright green square Buick and a black chauffeur, both kept in an unhealthy state of tidiness, but today they were nowhere to be seen.
‘Didn’t your father tell you?’ she asked.

Jem and I shook our heads.
‘Probably he forgot. He’s not in yet, is he?’
‘Nome, he doesn’t usually get back till late afternoon,’ said Jem.
‘Well, your father and I decided it was time I came to stay with you for a while.’
‘For a while’ in Maycomb meant anything from three days to thirty years. Jem and I exchanged


‘Jem’s growing up now and you are too,’ she said to me. ‘We decided that it would be best for
you to have some feminine influence. It won’t be many years, Jean Louise, before you become interested in clothes and boys–’
I could have made several answers to this: Cal’s a girl, it would be many years before I would be interested in boys, I would never be interested in clothes ... but I kept quiet.
‘What about Uncle Jimmy?’ asked Jem. ‘Is he comin’, too?’

‘Oh no, he’s staying at the Landing. He’ll keep the place going.’
The moment I said, ‘Won’t you miss him?’ I realized that this was not a tactful question. Uncle

Jimmy present or Uncle Jimmy absent made not much difference, he never said anything. Aunt Alexandra ignored my question.
I could think of nothing else to say to her. In fact I could never think of anything to say to her, and I sat thinking of past painful conversations between us: How are you, Jean Louise? Fine, thank you ma’am, how are you? Very well, thank you; what have you been doing with yourself? Nothin’. Don’t you do anything? Nome. Certainly you have friends? Yessum. Well what do you all do? Nothin’.
It was plain that Aunty thought me dull in the extreme, because I once heard her tell Atticus that I was sluggish.
There was a story behind all this, but I had no desire to extract it from her then: today was Sunday, and Aunt Alexandra was positively irritable on the Lord’s Day. I guess it was her Sunday corset. She was not fat, but solid, and she chose protective garments that drew up her bosom to giddy heights, pinched in her waist, flared out her rear, and managed to suggest that Aunt Alexandra’s was once an hour-glass figure. From any angle, it was formidable.

(a) Read the extract on the opposite page. Then answer the following question:
With close reference to the extract, show how Harper Lee creates mood and atmosphere here. [10]
(b) Imagine you are Miss Maudie. At the end of the novel, you think back over its events. Write down your thoughts and feelings. Remember how Miss Maudie would speak when you write your answer. [20]
(c) One of the themes in To Kill A Mockingbird is prejudice. How does Harper Lee present this theme in her novel?
Ours were adjoining rooms; as I shut the door between them Jem said ‘Night, Scout.’
‘Night,’ I murmured, picking my way across the room to turn on the light. As I passed the bed I stepped on something warm, resilient, and rather smooth. It was not quite like hard rubber, and I

had the sensation that it was alive. I also heard it move.
I switched on the light and looked at the floor by the bed. Whatever I had stepped on was gone.

I tapped on Jem’s door.
‘What,’ he said.
‘How does a snake feel?’
‘Sort of rough. Cold. Dusty. Why?’
‘I think there’s one under my bed. Can you come look?’

‘Are you bein’ funny?’ Jem opened the door. He was in his pyjama bottoms. I noticed not without satisfaction that the mark of my knuckles was still on his mouth. When he saw I meant what I said, he said, ‘If you think I’m gonna put my face down to a snake you’ve got another think comin’. Hold on a minute.’
He went to the kitchen and fetched the broom. ‘You better get up on the bed,’ he said.

‘You reckon it’s really one?’ I asked. This was an occasion. Our houses had no cellars; they were built on stone blocks a few feet above the ground, and the entry of reptiles was not unknown but was not commonplace. Miss Rachel Haverford’s excuse for a glass of neat whisky every morning was that she never got over the fright of finding a rattler coiled in her bedroom closet, on her washing, when she went to hang up her negligee.
Jem make a tentative swipe under the bed. I looked over the foot to see if a snake would come out. None did. Jem made a deeper swipe.
‘Do snakes grunt?’
‘It ain’t a snake,’ Jem said. ‘It’s somebody.’

Suddenly a filthy brown package shot from under the bed. Jem raised the broom and missed Dill’s head by an inch when it appeared.
‘God Almighty.’ Jem’s voice was reverent.
We watched Dill emerge by degrees. He was a tight fit. He stood up and eased his shoulders,

turned his feet in their ankle sockets, rubbed the back of his neck. His circulation restored, he said, ‘Hey.’
Jem petitioned God again. I was speechless.
‘I’m ’bout to perish,’ said Dill. ‘Got anything to eat?’ 

Some issues to think about:

Write about the way Harper Lee presents the relationship between Atticus and his children.

How does she present the relationship between Atticus and the town? The children and the town? What themes does this bring out?

What does the [extract chosen] reveal about Atticus’ character? About Scout’s character? About Jem’s character? About the relationships between the characters?

Why is [this extract] so dramatic? How does Harper Lee build tension? How are the themes presented here?

Harper Lee was proud to be from the South. But ashamed too. How are mixed feelings about place and community presented in To Kill a Mockingbird?

How does Lee present Maycomb and its inhabitants in To Kill a Mockingbird?

How do you respond to Harper Lee’s presentation of [any character / place] in the novel?

Extract Questions taken directly from AQA

Every town the size of Maycomb had families like the Ewells. No economic fluctuations changed their status – people like the Ewells lived as guests of the county in prosperity as well as in the depths of a depression. No truant officers could keep their numerous offspring in school; no public health officer could free them from congenital defects, various worms, and the diseases indigenous to filthy surroundings.
Maycomb Ewells lived behind the town garbage dump in what was once a Negro cabin. The cabin’s plank walls were supplemented with sheets of corrugated iron, its roof shingled with tin cans hammered flat, so only its general shape suggested its original design: square, with four tiny rooms opening on to a shotgun hall, the cabin rested uneasily upon four irregular lumps of limestone. Its windows were merely open spaces in the walls, which in the summertime were covered with greasy strips of cheesecloth to keep out the varmints that feasted on Maycomb’s refuse.
The varmints had a lean time of it, for the Ewells gave the dump a thorough gleaning every day, and the fruits of their industry (those that were not eaten) made the plot of ground around the cabin look like the playhouse of an insane child: what passed for a fence was bits of tree-limbs, broomsticks and tool shafts, all tipped with rusty hammer-heads, snaggle-toothed rake heads, shovels, axes and grubbing hoes, held on with pieces of barbed wire. Enclosed by this barricade was a dirty yard containing the remains of a Model-T Ford (on blocks), a discarded dentist’s chair, an ancient ice-box, plus lesser items: old shoes, worn-out table radios, picture-frames, and fruit jars, under which scrawny orange chickens pecked hopefully.
One corner of the yard, though, bewildered Maycomb. Against the fence, in a line, were six chipped-enamel slop jars holding brilliant red geraniums, cared for as tenderly as if they belonged to Miss Maudie Atkinson, had Miss Maudie deigned to permit a geranium on her premises. People said they were Mayella Ewell’s.

(a) How does Lee use details in this passage to present the position of the Ewells in Maycomb society?

(b) How does Lee present Mayella Ewell in the novel as a whole?

(a) How does Lee use details [in the extract] to show the feelings and attitudes of [any given character] in this passage?
and then Part (b)

(b) How far does [Scout or Jem’s] Southern upbringing affect their attitude to ‘negroes’ in the novel?

AQA Extract Question
a) Which techniques does Lee use to build up a sense of fear in this passage?
and then Part (b)
  1. How does Lee use [some other character or key scene] to show racial injustice
    in America in the 1930s?

‘I simply want to tell you that there are some men in this world who were born to do our unpleasant jobs for us. Your father’s one of them.’
‘Oh,’ said Jem. ‘Well.’
‘Don’t you oh well me, sir,’ Miss Maudie replied, recognizing Jem’s fatalistic noises, ‘you are not old enough to appreciate what I said.’
Jem was staring at his half-eaten cake. ‘It’s like bein’ a caterpillar in a cocoon, that’s what it is,’ he said. ‘Like somethin’ asleep wrapped up in a warm place. I always thought Maycomb folks were the best folks in the world, least that’s what they seemed like.’
‘We’re the safest folks in the world,’ said Miss Maudie. ‘We’re so rarely called on to be Christians, but when we are, we’ve got men like Atticus to go for us.’

Jem grinned ruefully. ‘Wish the rest of the county thought that.’

‘You’d be surprised how many of us do.’
‘Who?’ Jem’s voice rose. ‘Who in this town did one thing to help Tom Robinson, just


‘His coloured friends for one thing, and people like us. People like Judge Taylor.
People like Mr Heck Tate. Stop eating and start thinking, Jem. Did it ever strike you that Judge Taylor naming Atticus to defend that boy was no accident? That Judge Taylor might have had his reasons for naming him?’
This was a thought. Court-appointed defences were usually given to Maxwell Green, Maycomb’s latest addition to the bar, who needed the experience. Maxwell Green should have had Tom Robinson’s case.
‘You think about that,’ Miss Maudie was saying. ‘It was no accident. I was sittin’ there on the porch last night, waiting. I waited and waited to see you all come down the sidewalk, and as I waited I thought, Atticus Finch won’t win, he can’t win, but he’s the only man in these parts who can keep a jury out so long in a case like that. And I thought to myself, well, we’re making a step - it’s just a baby-step, but it’s a step.’
‘’t’s all right to talk like that - can’t any Christian judges an’ lawyers make up for heathen juries,’ Jem muttered. ‘Soon’s I get grown—’
‘That’s something you’ll have to take up with your father,’ Miss Maudie said.

How does Lee use details in this passage to present Miss Maudie’s view of Maycomb? and then Part (b)
In the novel as a whole, how does Lee show what life was like in a small town such as Maycomb in 1930s southern America?

Read the following passage and then answer part (a) and part (b)

(From ‘What’d you get for.....’ page 87 to ‘....she’d never had one.’ Page 88
Heinemann edition)
Part (a) In this passage, what methods does Lee use to present Scout’s feelings about Aunt Alexandra and Francis? Refer closely to the passage in your answer.
and then Part (b) In the novel, how does Lee show that other people expect Scout to behave in particular ways? What do you think these expectations show about the society in which the novel is set?
Answers may include the following: 
Scout’s attitudes to Francis and Aunt Alexandra e.g. reluctant tolerance of Francis, frustration of Aunt Alexandra’s efforts to change her

Scout’s ‘tomboyish’ behaviour which irritates Aunt Alexandra
Conflict between Aunt Alexandra and Scout

Scout’s irritation that Aunt Alexandra misjudges her

Use of humour in the passage, e.g. ‘the sensation of slowly settling to the bottom of the ocean’
Use of dialogue in the passage to show lack of understanding between Scout and Francis
Use of Scout as narrator – her repeating of Aunt Alexandra’s words e.g. “ray of sunshine” and Atticus’ reaction, her lack of enthusiasm for Alexandra’s “vision”


Scout’s determination not to be a ‘girl’ and Jem’s attitude to this
Women not on the jury
Attitudes of the women at the missionary circle to Scout and how she should behave ‘Southern womanhood’ [Atticus]
Status of women in that society – Lee does not always conform to stereotypes

Either 2 (a) Or 2 (b)
How does Lee create such vivid impressions of the black community of Maycomb in this passage? [40]

How does Lee make the appearance of Arthur (Boo) Radley at the end of the novel such an important and moving moment? Remember to support your ideas with details from the novel. [40]