Reading Guide Questions

To Kill a Mockingbird

Harper Lee


Chapters 1-3 Reading Guide/Discussion Questions 


1.  What do we know about Scout’s family, the Finches?  Why do you think the author included this background?

2.  Approximately when does this story take place?  How do we know?

3.  What do we know for certain about Boo Radley?

4.  Why is Boo fascinating to the children?

5.  Scout makes three mistakes on her first day at school.  What are her mistakes and why do they make Miss Caroline so angry?

6.  Why are the professional people in Maycomb poor at this time?

7.  Calpurnia lectures Scout on manners when Scout criticizes Walter’s eating habits and Atticus supports her.  What does this tell you about how Calpurnia and Atticus feel about other people?

8.  Burris Ewell, Walter Cunningham, and Chuck Little are all from extremely poor families.  However there are great differences both in appearance and in attitudes, particularly between the Cunninghams and the Ewells.  What are those differences and why do you believe they exist?

9.  Atticus tells Scout, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view...until you climb in his skin and walk around in it.”  What are some of the things that Scout begins to realize at this point because of her father’s statement?  (see p. 30).

10. What is the ‘compromise’ which Atticus suggests to Scout?


Chapters 4-6 Reading Guide/Discussion Questions 


1.  In what specific ways does Scout criticize the school she is attending?

2.  Where do you suppose the gum and pennies are coming from?  What makes you think so?

3. What are Scout’s two reasons for wanting to quit the ‘Radley Game’?

4.  When Miss Maudie shows her disgust with ‘foot-washing Baptists,’ is she actually putting down all Baptists, or a particular point of view?  Explain.

5.  What does Atticus say about the Radley’s right to privacy?  Do you agree with his point of view?  Why or why not?

6.  What reasons do Jem and Dill give for trying to peek into the Radley window at night?

7.  What does Jem say to make Scout go along with the plan?

8.  After the attempt to see in to the Radley’s Jem wants not only to recover his pants but to keep on good terms with Atticus.  What does this tell you about Jem’s relationship with his father?


Chapters 7-9 Reading Guide/Discussion  Questions 


1.  What was the condition of Jem’s pants when he found them?  Why did their condition frighten him further?

2.  List all of the gifts which the children have found in the tree to this point.

3.  What is the significance of the gifts in the tree?

4. A.  Explain why Mr. Nathan Radley fills the hole in the tree with cement?  B.  Why does Jem cry about this?

5.  What is Scout’s reaction to the snow?

6.  Why do Jem and Scout make the snowman such an obvious replica of Mr.  Avery?

7. Why does Atticus decide to keep the blanket incident a secret?

8. After the fire is over, how does Miss Maudie feel about the destruction of her house?

9.  What does Miss Maudie’s reaction tell us about her character and her values?


Chapters 10-11 Reading Guide/Discussion  Questions 


1.  Scout and Jem are ashamed of their father, Atticus.  What things do they criticize about their father?

2.  On page 90 we see Atticus’ instruction to Jem and Scout is that it is a sin to kill mockingbirds.  Why is it considered a sin?

3.  Once Atticus has proven his marksmanship in shooting Tim Johnson, Miss Maudie tries to explain why he shoots only when he has to although his was the ‘deadest shot in Maycomb County in this time’.  What does Miss Maudie say about how Atticus views marksmanship and pride?

4.  Why won’t Jem allow Scout to brag about Atticus at school?  Do you agree with him?  Why or why not?

5.  Why is Atticus insistent that Jem and Scout should be polite to Mrs. Dubose and later that Jem should read to her?

6.  Why do you think the author gives such a detailed and ugly description of Mrs. Dubose?  How does this make you feel?

7.  Atticus describes the phrase ‘nigger-lover’ on page 108.  Do you agree with his ideas on the subject?  Explain.

8.  Mrs. Dubose is described as a ‘great lady’ and a brave person, by Atticus, on page 112.  Why does he consider her to be brave?  Why is it important for Jem to have learned about her courage?

Chapters 12-13 Reading Guide/Discussion  Questions 


1. Jem is getting older and changes are taking place in his relationship with Scout.  Describe how their relationship has changed.

2.  When Scout and Jem go to church with Calpurnia we meet some of the members of her church.    Describe how Lula reacts to Jem and Scout.  What does her behavior demonstrate about the theme of prejudice?

3.  What skill does Zeebo have?  Where did he acquire this skill?

4.  Scout finds that the church service is like her own except for a few differences.  What are the differences?

5.  Why does Calpurnia speak one way around colored people and another way around white people?  Is she being honest or hypocritical when she does this?  Explain.

6.  Who has come to stay with Atticus, Jem and Scout?  Why has she come?

7.  Scout and Aunt Alexandra communicate very poorly with each other.  Is the fault more with one than the other, or are they both at fault?  Explain.

8.  A.  Cousin Joshua Finch is seen differently be Atticus and  Aunt Alexandra.  How do they each describe him?           B. Why is there a difference of opinion on Cousin Joshua Finch between Atticus and Aunt Alexandra?

9.  What does Scout mean when she states “I know what he was trying to do, but Atticus is only a man.  It takes a woman to do that kind of work’ at the end of the chapter.


Chapters 14-16 Reading Guide/Discussion  Questions 


1.  How does Aunt Alexandra feel about Calpurnia?  Explain why this is ‘in character’ for Aunt Alexandra.

2.  Why is Scout so happy about the brawl with Jem?

3.  Explain how Jem ‘broke the remaining code of our childhood.’

4.  What are Dill’s reasons for not wanting to stay with his mother and step-father?

5.  State specifically how the unrest of the town shown in the actions which lead up to the scene at the Maycomb jail.

6. On page 151 actions are taking place at the jailhouse.  Describe the situation as Scout has seen it when she thinks “..there followed what I later realized was a sickeningly comic aspect of an unfunny situation: the men talked in near-whispers.”

7.  Why does Jem openly defy Atticus and refuse to leave?

8.  What effect did Scout’s childish attempt at conversation have?

9.  Why was Atticus so affectionate with Jem even though he had disobeyed him?

10.  Atticus is in disagreement with Aunt Alexandra over many things.  Discuss at least two matters of disagreement and each one’s position or point of view.

11.  How does Atticus explain the mob actions to Scout.

12. Why do you suppose a man like Mr. Underwood (who is known to be a hater of Negroes) was covering Atticus at the jail?


Chapters 17-21 Reading Guide/Discussion  Questions 


1.  Describe Dolphus Raymond’s way of life and the effect of his behavior on the town. 

2.  Atticus spends much time discussing Mayella Ewell’s injuries.  What is he trying to reveal?

3.  The Ewells are ‘poor white trash.’  Explain this term according to what you know about the way they live and the kind of people they have appeared to be up to this point.

4.  We are both disgusted by Mayella and feel sorry for her.  Give examples that make us feel both ways by quoting statements she makes.

5.  What is so important about Tom Robinson’s appearance?  What, according to the testimony, does this prove beyond a doubt?

6.  In contrast to the Ewells, what kind of person is Tom Robinson?  Explain with the evidence shown.

7.  Why does Atticus mention Tom’s previous record of conviction?

8.  According to Tom’s testimony, what actually happened on November 21?  Be specific.

9.  What ‘mistake’ did Tom make in saying that he felt sorry for Mayella?

10.  Explain what Scout means when she says that Mayella “was even lonelier than Boo Radley.”

11.  How does Mr. Raymond defend his deliberate appearance of drunkenness?

12.  Why does he tell Scout and Dill about his life?

13.  In five or six sentences paraphrase Atticus’ summation (closing speech) to the jury.

14.  How does Scout ‘know’ the verdict before she hears it?

15.  Why do the Negroes stand when Atticus leaves the courtroom?


 Chapters 22-24 Reading Guide/Discussion  Questions 


1.  How does Atticus feel when the verdict is announced?

2.  After Jem expresses disillusionment over the trial and the verdict, Miss Maudie defends the town and its people.  What does she say to Jem?

3.  What causes Miss Maudie to say that at least they have make a ‘baby-step’ in the right direction?

4.  What kind of clown does Dill decide to be?  Explain his reasoning.

5.  Why does Bob Ewell threaten Atticus?   How does Atticus react?

6.  What is the difference in attitude expressed by Atticus and Aunt Alexandra about the Cunninghams?

7.  Why won’t Jem accept Scout’s opinion that there is ‘just one kind of folks–folks.’?

8.  What  unfortunate characteristics do the ladies of the missionary circle display?  Do you think this is typical of such groups?

9.  Discuss the irony of Mrs. Merriweather’s admiration for J. Grimes Everett and her attitude toward the trial.

10.  Scout feels she prefers the company of men to women.  Why?  Do you agree with her reasons?

11.  What does Miss Maudie mean by ‘We’re paying the highest tribute we can pay a man”?

12.  Scout learns something about being a true lady.  Explain what it is.


Chapters 25-27 Reading Guide/Discussion  Questions 


1.  How does most of the town react to Tom’s death?

2.  In what ways is Mr. Underwood’s editorial in the Maycomb Tribune similar to Atticus’ advice to Jem and Scout when they got their guns?

3.  Now that Scout is growing up she has new feelings about certain things.  Explain her feelings about:

a. their cruel games concerning Boo Radley

b. her remaining desire to see Boo in person

c. Atticus’ apparent knowledge about their previous activities

d. ‘Current Event’

4.  What is ironic about Miss Gates’ lecture on democracy when compared to her comments at the trial?

5.  When Scout tries to tell Jem about Miss Gates, why does he react so violently?  What is Atticus’ answer for Jem’s behavior?

6.  A.  What are the three threatening things that had happened in Maycomb by the middle of October?  B.  How do the methods of each thing or occurrence tell you about the kind of man Bob Ewell is?



Chapters 28-31 Reading Guide/Discussion  Questions 


1.  Why do Atticus and Aunt Alexandra not attend the Hallowe’en pageant?

2.  What does Cecil Jacobs do before the pageant which helps set up the incidents which occur after the pageant?

3.  When Jem and Scout hear a noise what do they think it might be?

4.  How many people are finally in the skirmish under the tree?

5.  Who saved Jem and Scout?

6.  Atticus and Heck Tate disagree over the essential worth of Bob Ewell.  Whom do you agree with and why?

7.  Describe the meeting between Scout and Boo.  How does this compare to how she imagined the meeting would be?

8.  There seems to be an immediate understanding between Scout and Boo.  Why do you think this is so?

9.  Atticus and Heck Tate have a heated argument.  Does either of them really believe what he is saying?

10.  How does Scout assure Atticus that Mr. Tate is right?

11.  When she takes Boo home, Scout understands many things as she sees the street from this new point of view.  What are some of the things she ‘sees’ now?

12.  Describe the feelings you experienced as you read the closing scene

To Kill a Mockingbird

by Harper Lee

Glossary of Terms


Chapter 1

ambled: (vb.): to walk at a slow, leisurely pace.

apothecary (n.): an early form of a pharmacist, apothecaries could also prescribe drugs.

assuaged (vb.): to assuage is to lessen or to calm. Therefore, if Jem's fears about being able to play football were assuaged, it means that he no longer feared that he wouldn't be able to play the sport.

beadle (n.): a minor city official, lower in rank than either a sheriff or a policeman, whose main duties revolve around preserving order at various civil functions such as trials and town hall meetings.

brethren (n.): in this case, members of a particular church or sect

corsets (n): a corset is a ladies undergarment designed to produce a particular effect on the figure. That effect usually results in a slim (or slimmer) waist and larger busts and hips.

dictum (n.): in this case, a formal statement of principle

domiciled (vb.): A domicile is a house or a place where a person lives. If you are domiciled somewhere, that is where you live. The Finch family lived in the northern part of the county.

eaves (n.): the lower edges of a roof which usually project beyond the side of a building

foray (n.): When you make a foray, you go somewhere or do something that is unusual or not normal for you. It was certainly not Jem's usual behavior to go near the Radley house; thus, doing so was a foray for him.

Hoover carts (n):  broken-down cars driven by mules; named after President Herbert Hoover who served during the early part of the Great Depression.

human chattels (n.): slaves

impotent (adj.): powerless. Simon's fury and anger regarding the Civil War would certainly have been impotent because there would have been nothing he could have done about it.

impudent (adj.): To be impudent is to be shamelessly bold, as if you don't care what anyone thinks about you. Since the Haverfords did something illegal in front of witnesses, Lee rightfully describes them as impudent.

malevolent (adj.): evil

Methodists (n): members of a branch of a Protestant Christian denomination.

picket (n): a pointed or sharpened pole or stake. Many pickets held together can make a picket fence.

piety (n): devotion to religious duties and practices

predilection (n.): a predilection is a preference, or a preferred way of doing something. Thus, the Radley's preferred way of spending a Sunday afternoon was to keep the doors closed and not receive visitors

ramrod (adj.): rigid, severe, straight

repertoire was vapid: (n. + adj.): a repertoire is all the special skills a person has; vapid, in this case, means boring or uninteresting. So, when Scout says that their repertoire was vapid, she means that the games they had invented to pass the time had become old and had lost their interest.

scold (n.): A scold is a person who scolds; that is, someone who often finds fault with people or things (and usually lets you know about it under no uncertain terms)

spittoon (n.): a jarlike container to spit into; usually used to spit tobacco juice into.

strictures (n.): conditions or rules

taciturn (adj.): almost always silent. Apparently, Aunt Alexandra's husband was a very quiet man.

unsullied (adj.): something that is unsullied has been basically untouched or unused. The fact that Atticus's edition of the Code of Alabama if unsullied would, in this case, indicate that he seldom consults this book.

veranda (n): a portico or porch with a roof


Chapter 2

auburn (adj.): reddish-brown

catawba worms (n.): catawba worms are actually caterpillars that are highly prized by fishermen in the Southern United States.

condescended (vb.): To condescend is to agree to do something that you believe to be beneath your dignity. Jem condescends to take Scout to school, even though, as a fifth-grader, he feels superior to his first-grade sister.

covey (n.): a group

crimson (adj.): blood-red

cunning (adj.): In this case, cunning means attractive or cute --almost too cute

entailment (n.): a legal situation regarding the use of inherited property.

hookworms (n.): a type of parasite. Hookworms usually enter the body through bare feet and move through the body to the small intestines where they attach themselves with a series of hooks around their mouths.

immune (adj.): In this case, to be immune to something means that it has no effect on you. The story Miss Caroline reads to the class has no effect on them; they don't get it.

indigenous (adj.): belonging to a particular region or country

John Dewey (n): a man regarded as the most important educational reformer of his day; he believed that schools should reflect society.

scrip stamps (n.): paper money of small denominations (less than $1.00) issued for temporary emergency use. During the Great Depression, many local and state government gave out scrip stamps, or sometimes tokens, to needy people.

seceded (vb.): To secede is to break away. During the Civil War, Alabama was one of the states that broke away, or seceded from the Union.

smilax (n.): a bright green twinning vine, often used for holiday decorations.

sojourn (n.): a brief visit

subsequent mortification (adj. + n.): Something that is subsequent will follow closely after something else. Mortification is a feeling of shame or the loss of self respect. If Scout had been able to explain things to Miss Caroline, she could have prevented her teacher from losing self respect of feeling shameful later on.

vexations (n.): To vex is to annoy, so a vexation is something that causes annoyance or problems.

wallowing illicitly (vb. + adv.): In this case, to wallow is to indulge in something (usually an activity) with great enjoyment. Illicit, used like this, means unauthorized or improper. After listening to Miss Caroline, Scout feels that, by reading, she has been happily indulging in something which she should not have been doing.


Chapter 3

amiable (adj.): friendly

compromise (n.): an agreement where each person agrees to give up something

contemptuous (adj.): To be contemptuous is to have the feeling that someone or something is beneath you; that it or they are worthless. The Ewell boy obviously feels this way about his teacher, Miss Caroline.

contentious (adj.): always ready to argue or fight

cootie (n.): a slang term for a head louse. A louse (plural: lice) is a bloodsucking parasite.

cracklin bread (n.): a type of cornbread mixed with cracklins (bits of fried pork skin).

diminutive (adj.): smaller than ordinary

disapprobation (n.): disapproval

discernible (adj.): understandable

dispensation (n.): a release from an obligation or promise. In this case, by offering friendship to Walter and promising that Scout won't fight with him, Jem dispenses her threat to fight with him more.

dose (of) magnesia (n. + n.): A dose is an exact amount of medicine. Magnesia is a medicine used as a laxative and antacid.

eddy (n.): a current of water that moves against the main current; a whirlpool

erratic (adj.): irregular. Calpurnia usually uses good grammar, but when she is angry, her grammar is irregular.

flinty (adj.): Flint is a very hard rock. Something that is flinty is extremely hard and firm.

fractious (adj.): mean or cross

gravely (adv.): seriously

haint (n.): a ghost or spook; someone or something very scary

irked (v.): to be irked is to be annoyed. Scout is annoyed when Jem tells Walter that she won't fight with him (Walter) anymore.

kerosene (n.): a thin oil. Kerosene is sometimes used as a solvent or cleaning agent, although its more common use is for fuel or lighting.

lye soap (n.): Lye is a very strong alkaline substance used for cleaning. Lye soap is very strong, harsh soap that contains lye.

monosyllabic (adj.): Mono means "one." A syllable is word or a part of a word which can be pronounced with a single, uninterrupted sound. The name "Atticus," for example, is made up of three syllables: at + ti + cus. Thus, monosyllabic literally means "one sound." Scout's monosyllabic replies to Atticus's questions about her first day at school might have been made up of one-sound words like "yes" and "no."

mutual concessions (adj. + n.): A concession is an agreement; something that is mutual is done by two or more people. Thus, a mutual concession occurs when two or more people agree on something.

onslaught (n.): a violent attack

persevere (v.): to carry on in spite of difficulties

tranquility (n.): peacefulness; serenity


Chapter 4

auspicious (adj.): favorable

melancholy (adj.): sad and gloomy

quelling (of) nausea: (v. + n.): To quell something is to quiet or pacify it. Nausea is the feeling you get when your stomach is upset and you feel as if you're about to vomit. Scout is trying to quell her nausea, or make her stomach settle down.

scuppernongs (n.): a sweet table grape, grown chiefly in the Southern United States.


Chapter 5

asinine (adj.): stupid; silly

benevolence (n.): benevolence is kindness or thoughtfulness.  In this case, a generous or thoughtful gift

benign (adj.): kind and gentle

bridgework (n.): Unlike dentures, which replace the upper or lower sets of teeth, bridgework is made up of sections of replacement teeth that can be inserted and removed from one's mouth.

chameleon (adj.) In nature, chameleons are tree-dwelling lizards that have the unusual ability to change the color of their skin in order to blend into their surroundings. By calling Miss Maudie a chameleon lady, Scout points out the fact that her neighbor's appearance was as changeable as one of the lizards.

cordiality (n.): sincere affection and kindness

edification (n.): education; instruction

gaped (vb.): To gape at someone is to stare at that person with your mouth open.

inquisitive (adj.): questioning; prying

mimosa (n): Also called a silk tree, a mimosa can be either a tree or a shrub.

morbid (adj.): gruesome; horrible

placidly (adv.): calmly; quietly

Protestant (adj.): Protestant is the name applied to any number of Christian churches, such as Baptist, Methodist, and Lutheran.

pulpit Gospel (adj. + n.): A pulpit is the raised platform or lectern from which a preacher speaks in church. The Gospel refers to the teachings of Jesus Christ, specifically the first four books of the New Testament. Scout says that her faith in what she's heard about the teachings of Christ from the pulpit (preacher) in her own church has been shaken a bit.

quibbling (vb.): a type of arguing where you avoid the main point by bringing up petty details

tacit (adj.) An agreement, or, in this case, a "treaty" that is tacit is one that has been silently agreed upon. Thus, the children know that they can play on Miss Maudie's front lawn even though she never directly told them that it was all right to do so.


Chapter 6

collards (n.): a type of cabbage with very coarse leaves. It would be difficult to walk quietly through a patch of collards.

dismemberment (n.): To dismember someone is to tear or cut that person's limbs (arms and legs) off. Although it is unlikely that anyone would have actually pulled off Dill's arms and legs, Lee uses the word to point out how outraged Miss Rachel must have been to discover that the children had been playing strip poker.

eerily (adv.): weirdly; mysteriously

ensuing (adj.): Something that ensues is something that comes immediately after something else.

Franklin stove (n.): a cast iron heating stove, invented by Benjamin Franklin.stove.

kudzu (n.): a quick-growing vine with large leaves, often found in the Southern United States.

lattice-work (adj.): A lattice is an openwork structure of crossed strips or bars, as in a screen. Light that passes through any kind of a lattice -work would produce lattice-work shadows.

malignant (adj.): dangerous; evil

prowess (n.): superior ability or skill

ramshackle (adj.): loose or rickety; about to fall apart

respiration (n.): breathing

rigid (adj.): stiff

waning (adj.): becoming less bright, intense, or strong. The moonlight is waning because it's getting closer to morning, and the moon is changing its position in the sky.


Chapter 7

cleaved (vb.): stuck

gnats (n.): [Pronounced: NAT] small, two-winged insects that can bite or sting.

meditative (adj.): To meditate is to reflect upon something, or think about it. When Jem give the patch on the tree a meditative pat, he does so in a thoughtful manner.

palate (n.): the roof of one's mouth

perpetual embalming (adj. + n.): Something that is perpetual lasts forever. Embalming is the process of preserving a dead body. Think of Egyptian mummies, or unwrap a virtual mummy. As Atticus later says, Jem would do well to get rid of the adjective (perpetual) . The Egyptians invented a type of paper (not toilet paper), as well as embalming (which, by its very nature, is perpetual) .

rendered (her) speechless: (vb. + n.): made her unable to speak

vigil (n.): a watch. Jem is waiting and watching for Mr. Nathan to appear.

whittles (vb.): To whittle is to use a knife to cut away thin shavings of wood. Sometimes, a whittler may actually end up carving a recognizable object.


Chapter 8

aberrations (n.): an aberration is a deviation, or a moving away from, something that is normal. The fact that winter comes so quickly in Maycomb is abnormal, thus, an aberration.

azaleas (n.): a colorful and decorative kind of flower.

cannas (n.): a beautiful tropical flower.

caricatures (n.): a representation of a person where certain features of that person are exaggerated or distorted.

cordial (adj.): warm and friendly

flue (n.): a channel in a chimney that allows smoke and flames to pass to the outside

meteorological (adj.): anything to do with meteorology or weather.

morphodite (n.): Scout has misheard Miss Maudie, who would actually have said the word hermaphrodite. Technically, a hermaphrodite is an animal or plant that has both female and male reproductive organs. Of course, the children's snowman is not really a hermaphrodite, but it does have both male and female characteristics.

near libel (adj. + n.): When you commit libel, you harm someone's reputation. Atticus tells the children that they have committed a near libel; that is, their snowman is 'near libel' because it so closely represents one of their neighbors and could harm that neighbor's reputation.

perpetrated (vb.): carried out; committed

plaited (vb.): braided

procured (vb): got

prophets (n.): A prophet is someone able to predict the future.

quelled (vb.): To quell is to overwhelm something until it is powerless. The tin roof of Miss Maudie's house quelled the flames because tin cannot burn so the fire was eventually stopped.

roomers (n.): persons who rent and live in rooms in a house.

switches (n.): slender twigs or branches

taffeta (n.): a lustrous, stiff fabric, often used for women's dresses, especially formal wear

touchous (adj.) touchy; sensitive

treble (adj.): high

unfathomable (adj.): Something that is unfathomable is something that cannot be understood.


Chapter 9

ambrosia (n): a dessert made up of a mixture of fruits, nuts, and coconut.

analogous (adj.): similar; comparable

attire (n.): clothing

bawled (vb.) cried out noisily

bluff (n.): the broad, flat front of a cliff

catwalk (n.): a narrow, elevated walkway

changelings (n.): a child secretly put in the place of another

compensation (n.): To compensate means to pay for something or to make up for something. Aunt Alexandra's good cooking skills, in some ways, make up for the fact that, for Scout, spending the holidays with her and Francis is not a lot of fun.

constituted (vb.): made up

crooned (vb.): To croon is to sing in a low, gentle tone.

deportment (n.): behavior

dim (adj.): unclear; not strong

donned (vb): put on

doused (vb.): to douse someone is to pour liquid, in this case water, all over that person.

evasion (n.): To evade is to avoid doing or answering something directly. Uncle Jack's evasion occurs when he doesn't directly answer Scout's question.

fanatical (adj.): A fanatic is a person whose extreme enthusiasm, interest, zeal, etc. goes beyond what is reasonable. Aunt Alexandra is fanatical about Scout's clothes because, according to Scout, her aunt's interest in this subject goes beyond what is reasonable.

gallantly (adv.): politely; in the manner of a gentleman

gastric (adj.): of, in, or near the stomach. A stomach ache would be a gastric complaint.

gravitated (vb.): Gravity is, of course, the force that pulls you to earth and keeps you from floating into outer space. When you gravitate toward something or someone, you find yourself being pulled in the direction of that object or person.

guilelessness (n.): Guile is craftiness and cunning in dealing with other. To be guileless is to have none of that craftiness. Here, Lee is being ironic since its obvious that Simon Finch didn't trust his daughters at all, and planned his house accordingly.

harbored (vb.): to hold in the mind

hookah (n): An oriental tobacco pipe with a flexible tube that draws smoke through a bowl of water.

impaired (adj.): damaged; weakened

indecision (n.): When you're indecisive, you can't decide what to do. Scout's indecision revolves around whether she should obey Uncle Jack or run away from him.

indicative (adj.): Something that is indicative of something shows or displays something. The manner in which Simon Finch arranged his house showed something about him.

ingenuous (adj.): simple; innocent

innate (adj.): Something that is innate is a natural part of something else. To Scout, cuss words have a natural sort of attraction to them; an innate attractiveness. They have value all on their own for her.

inordinately (adv.): Inordinate means too great or too many. Cousin Ike Finch is too vain about his beard; inordinately vain.

invective (n.): Invectives are abusive terms, curses, insults, and/or cuss words

isolate (vb.): set apart from others

jar (vb.): shake up; disturb

jetty (n): a type of wall built out into water to protect a coastline or restrain currents

mishaps (n.): unlucky or unfortunate accidents

mortify (vb.) humiliate; embarrass

nocturnal (adj.): nightly

obsess (vb.): greatly preoccupy

obstreperous (adj.): noisy and unruly

pantry (n.): a small room or closet off the kitchen where foodstuffs and cooking ingredients are stored

porter (n.): a person who carries luggage, etc., in this case, at a railroad station.

provocation (n.): To provoke is to excite some sort of feeling; often anger or irritation. Uncle Jack tells Scout that, as far as cuss words are concerned, he doesn't see the use for them unless they are used when one is very angry or provoked to use them.

ringworm (n.): a contagious skin disease caused by a fungus.

siblings (n.): brothers and/or sisters

still (n.): an apparatus for making alcoholic liquors. The sort of still to which Scout refers would be an illegal one.

subdued (vb.): Someone who has been subdued has been soothed or softened and made less intense.

tarried (vb.): delayed; waited

tentatively (adv.): To be tentative is to be hesitant or unsure.  Francis asks Scout his question tentatively because he is unsure  as to her reaction and more than a little afraid to face her.

tongs (n.): a device used to grab or lift objects. Tongs generally  have two long arms that are hinged together.

trousseau (n.): all the new clothes a bride brings to her marriage

uncompromising lineaments (adj. + n.): Lineaments are distinctive features or characteristics. Uncompromising, in this instance, means unchanging; firm; set. Alexandra's and Francis's uncompromising lineaments are their characteristics that are set and will never change.

wary (adj.): To be wary means to be cautious on your guard against something. In this instance, the children were never afraid of or cautious about their uncle's appearance.

widow's walk (n.): a platform with a rail around it, built onto the roof of a house.

Yankees (n.): Northerners; natives of Northern states. During the Civil War, the Yankees were the enemies of the South.


Chapter 10

alist (adj.): tilted to one side

articulate (adj.): able to speak and express oneself

attributes (n.): characteristics; qualities of a person or thing

bout (n.): fight

corncribs (n.): A corncrib is a small structure used to store corn.

crook (of his arm) (n.): The crook of your arm is the inside part of your arm where it bends at the elbow.

erratically (adv.): strangely; differently than normal

feeble (adj.): weak; frail

gingerly (adv.): carefully; cautiously

inconspicuous (adj.) To be conspicuous is to attract attention. To be inconspicuous is to do the opposite; to not attract attention. Scout wishes that Atticus would be more inconspicuous; that is, he would attract less attention to himself.

Jew's Harp (n): a small musical instrument that is played by plucking a piece of metal while holding the instrument to one's mouth.

mad dog (adj. + n.): a dog infected with a disease, such as rabies, which makes it act in a crazy, dangerous manner

mausoleum (n.): Literally, a mausoleum is a large, imposing tomb (a tomb is a place where dead bodies -- those that aren't buried -- are housed). However, Miss Maudie uses the term in its humorous form. She refers to her old house as a mausoleum because, to her, it was too large and too somber.

morphine (n.): highly addictive drug often used to deaden pain.

peril (n.): danger

Providence (n.): the care of God

rudiments (n.): principles; elements; subjects to be learned

tartly (adv.): sharply

torso (n.): the trunk of a body; that is, the part of the body that does not include the head, legs, or arms

vaguely (adv.): to be vague is to be unclear or not precise


Chapter 11

apoplectic (adj.): Apoplexy is a condition of sudden paralysis; a stroke. To be apoplectic, in this case, is to behave as if on the verge of having a stroke.

arbor (n): an outdoor area shaded by trees or, in this case, scuppernong vines on a lattice.

bedecked (adj.): adorned; covered (with decorations)

calomel (n.): a laxative; often used as a cure for intestinal worms

camellia (n.): a shrub with glossy evergreen leaves and waxy, rose-like flowers.

camisole (n.) a woman's sleeveless undergarment, usually worn under a sheer blouse

commence (vb.): begin

decreed (vb): A decree is an official order. As her older brother, Jem decreed what he and Scout would do.

degradation (n.): a state of low honor or moral character

dog-trot hall (adj.): a covered passageway between two parts of a building

escapade (n.): reckless prank

essence (n.): fundamental nature; most important quality

infuriated (vb.): angered greatly

interdict (n.): prohibition; restraint

livid (adj.): pale; lead-colored. Livid can also mean red, as in the color someone's face gets when that person becomes angry.

oppressive (adj.): overbearing; hard to put up with

palliation (n.): to palliate is to lessen the pain, or, in this case, fear and anxiety, of something without actually making the fear and anxiety go away. Calpurnia is not a great source of palliation; that is, she doesn't make the children feel any less anxious or fearful.

passÚ (adj.): old-fashioned

philippic (n.): a bitter verbal attack

plate (n.): dentures; dental plate

propensities (n.): inclinations or tendencies

reconnaissance (n.): examination

rectitude (n.): uprightness of character

relic (n): something of historic interest that has survived from the past. In this case, Scout is referring to a gun that would have been used in the Civil War.

skulked (vb.): to move or slink about in a sinister manner. The children are skulking in the kitchen because they are fearful of Atticus's reaction when he returns home.

syringe (n.): a device with a rubber bulb on one end and a narrow tube on the other: used to inject or extract fluids from body cavities.

tirade (n.): a long angry speech

tranquil (adj.): calm

umbrage (n.): offense

undulate (vb.): to move in waves or in a wavy manner

viscous (adj.): sticky


Chapter 12                                      

alien (adj.): not natural; strange

appalling (adj.): shocking; horrifying

asafoetida (n.): a strong-smelling (like garlic) substance made from a parsley-like plant; often used in folk medicine to repel illness

austere (adj.): stern and severe

boded (vb.): continued

church (vb.): To church someone is to bring a person to church for a special service that revolves around that person's needs or deeds.

clad (vb.): dressed

contemptuously (adv.): To behave or speak contemptuously toward someone is to treat that person as if he or she is unworthy or beneath one's dignity.

contentious (adj.) always ready to argue

denunciation (n.): To denounce is to strongly disapprove of or condemn something. The denunciation of sin in the reverend's sermon indicates his strong disapproval of sin.

diligently (adv.): industriously; in a hard-working manner

dispelled (vb.): driven away

ecclesiastical impedimenta (adj. + n.) items used during a church service

frivolous (adj.): silly; not serious

garish (adj.) showy, very bright or gaudy

habiliments (n.): outfits; clothing

inconsistent (adj.): not in agreement; incompatible

indignantly (adv.): angrily

lilac talcum (adj. + n.): Lilacs are a very fragrant flower. Talcum, often called talcum powder, is a fine talc, or powder, used for the body or face. Lilac talcum is lilac-scented talcum powder.

rotogravure print (n.): Rotogravure is a process of printing pictures; often photographs of pictures. Since rotogravure prints often appeared in newspapers, it is possible that the print in the church had been taken from a newspaper.

snuff (n.): a preparation of powdered tobacco, usually sniffed through the nose

tapeworm (n.): a parasite that can live in a person's intestines.

voile (adj.): a thin, cotton-like fabric


Chapter 13

caste system (adj. + n.): class distinctions based on birth, wealth, etc.

curtness (n.): To be curt is to be brief and short to the point of being rude.

devoid (adj.): completely without

flighty (adj.): foolish; irresponsible

incestuous (adj.): Incest is sexual intercourse between persons too closely related to marry legally. Atticus's comment as to the possibility that the Finches might have an Incestuous streak refers to the fact that so many Finches have married their cousins.

irritable (adj.): easily annoyed

mandrake roots (n.): The roots of the mandrake plant were often thought to have magical powers because it was thought that their shape resembled the human body. The mandrake root appears in many poems, including this "Song" by John Donne.

myopic (adj): Myopia is an abnormal eye condition, often called nearsightedness. Someone who is myopic cannot see objects clearly.

obliquely (adv.): indirectly

prerogative (n.) exclusive right or privilege

shinny (n.) a slang term for liquor; usually whiskey or bourbon. Bourbon is a main ingredient in the recipe for a Lane cake.

sluggish (adj.): lacking energy; lazy

soberly (adv.): seriously

spun (v.): To spin a tale is to tell a story in a creative, fanciful way.

tactful (adj.): To be tactful is to be able to say the right thing to a person without being offensive. Scout realizes that her question about her aunt and uncle was not tactful and may have been offensive or, at least, embarrassing.

tight (adj.): drunk


Chapter 14

antagonize (vb.): oppose; make angry

bushel (n.): a unit of dry measure equal to 32 quarts

erosion (n.): a gradual wearing away.

infallible (adj.): never wrong

manacles (n.): handcuffs

neat (adj.): unmixed with anything, such as water or soda; straight

taut (adj.): tightly stretched


Chapter 15

acquiescence (n.): agreement without protest

affliction (n.): in this case, a condition

aggregation (n.): group; gathering

begrudge (vb.): To begrudge someone something is to feel resentment or disapproval about the fact that they have something. Atticus says that he doesn't think anyone in the town would resent the fact that he has a client.

ecclesiastical (adj.): church-like

fašade (n.): [pronounced: "fah - sawed"] the front of a building; the part facing the street

futility (n.): feeling of being ineffective; uselessness, hopelessness

impassive (adj.): showing no emotion

linotype (n.): a typesetting machine used in publishing.

ominous (adj.): threatening; sinister

shinnied up (adj.): drunk

stifle (vb.): hold back; suppress

succinct (adj.): clear and brief

uncouth (adj.): crude, unmannerly

venerable (adj.): impressive on account of age or historic associations

venue (n.): the place where a jury is selected and a case is tried


Chapter 16                                                        

affirmed (vb.): firmly declared or stated

akimbo (adj.): hands on hips and elbows bent outward.

circuit solicitor (n.): a lawyer who travels to different locations to prosecute in trials

dispel (vb.): drive away

eccentricities (n.): oddities; unconventionalities

elucidate (vb.): explain

fey (adj.): strange; eccentric

formidable (adj.): impressive

inhabitants (n.): residents

khaki (adj.): a strong, twilled cloth of a dull yellowish-brown color

Mennonites (n.): members of an evangelical Protestant Christian sect. Mennonites favor plain dress and plain living.

profane (adj.): not connected with religion or religious matters

prosecutor (n.): lawyer who represents the state in a criminal trial; this person tries to prove the accused is guilty.

ruddy (adj.): reddish

Scripture (n.): The Bible

subpoena (n.): a written legal order directing a person to appear in court to give testimony

subtle (adj.): not openly obvious; quiet

sundry (adj.): various


Chapter 17                                

acrimonious (adj.): sarcastic; bitter; nasty

affirmative nod (adj. + n.): Affirmative means positive. To give an affirmative nod would be to nod or shake one's head up and down to indicate "yes."

amber (adj.): dark orange yellow

ambidextrous (adj.): able to use both hands with equal ease

amiably (adv.): good-naturedly

audibly (adv.): Anything that is audible is capable of being heard. The judge warns the spectators against making any more comments that can be heard.

bantam cock (n.): a small, aggressive rooster.

benignly (adv.): kindly; gently

boiling (n.): angry or unruly group

capacity (n.): ability

cast (n.): To have a cast in one's eye means that a particular eye tends to veer or turn off into another direction.

complacently (adv.): in a self-satisfied way

congenital (adj.): a congenital condition is one that is in existence at birth. For example, if a child is born with a weak heart, that weakness in congenital; as opposed to someone who may acquire the condition later in life.

contempt charges (adj. + n.) Contempt, in this case, is open disrespect of a court or judge. A person who acts in such a manner may face a contempt charge from a judge.

corroborating evidence (adj. + n.): In legal terms; corroborating evidence is evidence which helps to strengthen a position. For example; eyewitness testimony in regards to a crime would be corroborating evidence that such a crime had been committed.

corrugated (adj.): formed by a series of alternating ridges and grooves

counsel (n.): lawyers

crepey (adj.): Crepe is a thin, crinkled cloth. Mr. Ewell's crepey neck obviously resembles this fabric; that is, the skin is thin and crinkled.

dictum (n.): official pronouncement

dogged (adj.): stubborn determination

economic fluctuations (adj. + n.): Economics, in this case, has to do with the economy; the financial state of the country and its people. To fluctuate means to change. As far as the Ewells are concerned, no matter how the economy of the country might change, their situation was always the same. They were always poor.

edge (n.): sharpness

gardenia (n.): a large, fragrant flower.

genially (adv.): in a friendly manner

geraniums (n.): flowering plants.

gullet (n.): throat; neck

heaved (vb.): lifted

import (n.): importance

infinite (adj.): endless

irrelevant'n'immaterial (adj.): "irrelevant and immaterial"Irrelevant means not relative; not related (to something). Immaterial means unimportant. The judge is saying that whether or not Mr. Ewell can read and write is not related and is therefore, unimportant to the case.

load o'kindlin' (n.): "load of kindling." Kindling is generally made up of dry twigs, branches, etc.; materials useful for starting a fire

namesake (n.): the person one is named after. In this case, Mr. Ewell's namesake is the leader of the Confederate Army, Robert E. Lee.

prosperity (n.): good fortune; wealth

quelling (vb.): quieting; calming

refuse (n.): garbage

ruttin' on (vb.): In this instance, the term is used to indicate that, according to Mr. Ewell, Tom Robinson was having sexual intercourse with his daughter. It should be noted that this term is almost exclusively reserved for use in describing the mating habits of animals, not people.

skewed (adj.): turned

slop jars (n.): large pails usually used to receive waste water from a wash basin or the contents of a chamber pot

smugness (n.): To be smug is to be highly self-satisfied; to think a lot of oneself. Mr. Ewell's smugness, or appearance of self-satisfaction, shows on his face.

speculations (n.): thoughts or reflections.

sulky (adj.): moody and quiet

sullen (adj.): in this case, gloomy and threatening

supplemented (vb.): added to

tenet (n.) a principle or belief generally held to be true

title dispute (n.): a legal fight over the ownership of a particular piece of property

turbulent (adj.): stormy; unruly

varmints (n.): in this case, flies and other flying insects that would be found in and around a garbage dump

warranted (vb.): gave a reason for; indicated the need for


Chapter 18

arid (adj.): dry; without expression

chiffarobe (n.): a large cabinet with drawers and a place for hanging clothes.

constructionalist (n.): a person who interprets aspects of the law in a specified way

dusk (n.): the time just before nightfall

ground-itch (n.): Ground-itch is caused by hookworms. The parasites usually enter the body through bare feet, causing an itchy, allergic reaction.

grudging (adj.): hostile

lavations (n.): washings

mollified (adj.): soothed; calmed

neutrality (n.): the condition of being neutral; not taking part in either side of a controversy.

perpetual (adj.): everlasting; continuous

pilgrimage (n.): in this instance, a long walk

riled (adj.): angry

strenuous (adj.): work or labor that is strenuous requires a lot of energy and stamina.

tedious (adj.): boring; tiresome

tollable (adj.): Mayella's way of pronouncing the word "tolerable." Someone who is tolerable is a person who is fairly good or passable; someone who can be tolerated or endured.

wrathfully (adv.): angrily


Chapter 19

candid (adj.): open and honest

ex cathdra remarks (adj. + n.): remarks made with the authority that comes from one's official position

express (adj.): clear; explicit; not just implied

expunge (vb.): remove completely

grimly (adv.): sternly; without humor

impudent (adj.): disrespectful; bold; sassy

subtlety (n.): delicacy

thin-hided (adj.): thin-skinned; sensitive

unimpaired (adj.): unhurt; undamaged

volition (n.): will. Scout is saying that someone like Tom would never go into somebody's yard on his own or unless he had been invited to do so, and would never do so of his own will or volition.


Chapter 20

aridity (n.): dryness

attentive (adj.): paying attention; observant

caliber (n.): quality

capital charge (adj. + n.): a charge for a crime that is punishable by death

corroborative evidence (adj. + n.): To corroborate is to strengthen and support. Corroborative evidence, in a trial, is evidence that makes a case stronger. Atticus is telling the jury that there is no evidence to strengthen the case against Tom.

corrupting (vb.): To corrupt someone is to bring that person down to a lower moral level. Since it at first appears that Mr. Raymond has given Dill liquor to drink, it would seem that he is corrupting him.

cynical confidence (adj.): To be cynical, in this case, means to believe that people are only motivated in what they do out of selfishness; that no one truly behaves or does something out of sincerity. Atticus's mention of the witnesses's cynical confidence refers to the fact that they are selfish and self-centered enough to think that everyone will believe their story.

detachment (n.): the state of being disinterested or unemotional

discreet (adj.): carefully phrased; cautious

fraud (n.): a lie; a deception

indicted (vb.): formally accused; charged

iota (n.): a very small amount

minute (adj.): [pronounced: my - NEWT]exact; precise

pauper (n.): an extremely poor person

perpetrated (vb.): committed

temerity (n.): foolish or rash boldness

unmitigated (adj.): absolute


Chapter 21

acquit (vb.): clear of a charge; find not guilty

charged the jury (vb. + n.): When Judge Taylor charges the jury, he gives them instructions in law before they go off to deliberate or decide the case

exhilarated (adj.): cheerful, merry

indignant (adj.): angry


Chapter 22

cynical (adj.): a cynic is someone who often belittles or makes fun of someone else. Aunt Alexandra tells Dill that his remarks about his own Aunt's drinking habits are cynical, especially since, as a child, Dill should have more respect for his elders.

fatalistic (adj.): to accept the event as though it were inevitable; that is, that nothing could be done to change or alter it.

feral (adj.): wild; savage

heathen (adj.): unenlightened; without religion or morals

ruefully (adv.): regretfully


Chapter 23

commutes (vb.): changes; makes less severe

dry (adj.): clever but subtle

furtive (adj.): sneaky

infantile (adj.): childish

statute (n.): law

vehement (adj.): full of emotion and strong feeling

wary (adj.): cautious

wryly (adv.): humorously; slightly sarcastic


Chapter 24                                                     

apprehension (n.): In this case, fear

bellows (n.): a machine that allows air to be pumped through a system; in this case, an organ

bovine (adj.): cow-like

brevity (n.): shortness

charlotte (n.): a dessert made with fruit in a mold that is lined with pieces of bread or cake.

devout (adj.): devoted to religion

hypocrites (n.): people who pretend to be something they are not

impertinence (n.): disrespect

largo (adj.): a direction used in music which means "at a very slow tempo." Mrs. Merriweather is apparently speaking to Scout very slowly.

squalid (adj.): miserable; wretched

squalor (n): filth

sulky (adj.): moody

vague (adj.): not clearly felt; somewhat subconscious

yaws (n.): an infectious contagious tropical disease.


Chapter 25

roly-poly (n.): a small bug that can roll itself into a ball. Also known as a pillbug, sowbug or wood louse.

scowling (vb.): A scowl is a facial expression caused by scrunching up one's forehead and brow; a look of displeasure.

veneer (n.): attractive outer surface


Chapter 26

remorse (n.): a feeling of regret and guilt

recluse (n.): someone who stays away from society and the company of others

spurious (adj.): to outwardly resemble something but not have the genuine qualities of that thing. Miss Gates thinks that The Grit Paper is spurious because, although it resembles a newspaper, to her mind, it is far inferior to a publication like The Mobile Register or other newspapers.


Chapter 27

industry (n.): work, especially on a steady basis

notoriety (n.): fame

florid (adj.): very flowery in style; elegant

nondescript (adj.): dull; with no special or interesting qualities

carcass (n.): body

eccentricities (n.): odd behavior

maiden ladies (adj. + n.): women who have never married


Chapter 28

boil-prone (adj.): A boil is an inflamed, pus-filled swelling on the skin, like a pimple only usually bigger. To be prone to something is to be inclined to it. If the children had been boil-prone, they would have been inclined to have a lot of boils.

climbers (n.): social climbers; people trying to move into a different social class

crap games (n.): a gambling game played with two dice

divinity (n.): a white fudge made from whipped egg whites, sugar, and nuts.

forest primeval (n. + adj.): in this instance, a forest that had been primarily untouched or unchanged by man

furtive (adj.): secret

gait (n.): pace, walk

hock (n.): the joint bending backward in the hind leg of an animal like a pig. Scout is dressed as a ham, and a ham is the upper part of a hog's hind leg, Scout's hock would be the part of her costume that resembles the joint of a pig's leg.

irascible (adj.): angry

mocker (n.): mockingbird

pinioned (adj.): confined; held down

repertoire (n.): accomplishments; skills. The repertoire of the mockingbird is all the songs it can sing and sounds it can make.

rout (vb.): defeat

smockin' (n.): Smocking, decorative stitching used to gather cloth.

staccato (adj.): distinct; sharp and crisp


Chapter 29

reprimand (vb.): scold


Chapter 30

blandly (adv.): smoothly; without excitement

connived (vb.): secretly cooperated or agreed to

wisteria (n.): twinning woody vines with large clusters of flowers.


Chapter 31                                                       

railing (adj.): painful