To Kill a Mockingbird

A Literary Essay


Your next paper this year is a two to four page analysis of one major idea in To Kill a Mockingbird.  You must formulate a concise thesis statement written into an engaging and purposeful introduction.  The body of your paper should be well-supported through the use of at least four specific examples from the novel (at least three of them must be direct quotations).  The conclusion should provide a satisfying closure to your argument. 


I have labeled some of the major themes/concepts we have discussed during the unit.  After each concept I have included some general questions to get you thinking.  Begin thinking about these questions as you choose your topic.  You may come up with additional questions later when you are developing your thesis.


Directions for homework:  Please read over all these topics and questions carefully.  Select three about which you are most interested and star them on your paper.  Then answer the questions for these topics on a separate sheet of paper.  The more deeply you answer your questions, the easier your paper will eventually be to write. 


Possible Topics

-Growing up/ maturation:  What are some of the main events in the story that provide lessons in maturity for Jem?  Who are some of the people who teach him important lessons (Please note:  don't use Scout if you pick this topic).


-Courage:  What does it mean to be courageous?  What are some of the ways that characters act courageously in the novel?  What do other characters learn from these courageous characters? (Please note:  do not use Atticus if you choose this topic).


-Wearing Masks (characters providing illusions):  Are characters' public or private lives more important to other members of Maycomb society?  What does this say about the town of Maycomb?  Who are the characters that wear masks in this novel?


-Justice vs injustice:  What is justice?  Which characters in To Kill a Mockingbird exhibit a sense of justice?  What role, if any, does justice have in the outcome of the novel's complications?


-World of children vs the world of adults:  How do these worlds differ?  What does each learn from the other group?  Do the children learn more from the adults or vice-versa? 


-Education:  What are the different kinds of education in To Kill a Mockingbird?  Whom would you consider to be educated and uneducated?  How do these different types of education affect characters' lives?


-Social Divisions:  At the end of chapter 23, Jem and Scout have an important conversation about social divisions.  Who is right and why?  How do these social divisions affect Maycomb?  Do we see these examples of social divisions in our own world today?  How do they affect our world?


Prejudice/Tolerance:  What are the factors cause prejudice in Maycomb?  What are the factors that cause tolerance?  Who are some of the leaders in the fight for tolerance?


-Hypocrisy:  What is hypocrisy?  Who are some of the characters in the novel who most display hypocrisy?  Who are some of the characters that see through this hypocrisy?  What role does hypocrisy play in the novel?


-Mockingbirds:  What does it mean to be a mockingbird figure?  How do people in Maycomb treat mockingbird figures?  Is this indicative of the way we treat mockingbirds in our own society? (Please note: don't use Tom Robinson if you chooe this topic).


-Family:  Atticus is the main parent in this novel, but who are some of the other parental figures for Scout and Jem?  What lessons do Scout and Jem learn from them?  Who are some of the other characters in the novel that become "family" for Scout and Jem?  Why? 


Structural Overview

This is an overview of the pieces of the essay. We will be working both in and out of class on each portion described below.

1.      Introduction

      ·    Grabs the reader’s attention

      ·     Provides necessary background information (title, author, one-two sentences about the novel)

      ·     Includes a thesis statement

*Statement of opinion that the entire essay will support.

*It is one sentence and indicates the overall purpose of the paper.

*It should provide a smooth transition into the rest of the paper.


2.       Body

·        This is the heart of the essay, which will develop your reasons for your thesis statement.

·        Reasons will be supported with specific examples from the text and quotations that are explained and linked to your thesis statement. (At least 4 examples are required).

·        All final papers must include at least three quotations that are correctly documented and linked back to your thesis.

·        Your paragraphs should be arranged in a logical, interesting way.

·        Appropriate transitions are used to move the reader from one paragraph to the next.


3.      Conclusion

·        Ties all the ideas presented in the essay together and leaves the reader feeling satisfied with a clear understanding of the writer's opinion.

·        Answers the question so what?  OR Why is this paper so important?





Please see your calendar for due dates of each part of this process.


***This essay will be evaluated on the CIM



















Formulating a Thesis


Thesis: A statement of opinion, which the entire work is designed to support. It tells the reader what your paper is going to be about and is presented in a single sentence, which does the following:

1.      Answers a question or idea, formulated by you and implied in the statement.

2.      Identifies and limits the topic to what the writer intends to discuss.

3.      Stays small in scope. It is better to look deeply at one issue instead of trying to cover a wide range of ideas.


A Working Thesis Will Be:

1.      On an arguable issue that can be proven with textual support, evidence, and your opinions.

2.      Written in third person.

3.      The last sentence of the introductory paragraph.

4.      Engaging to the reader.

5.      Serve as a map for the reader so he or she knows what the paper is about and what the writer will be discussing in the following paragraphs.


Avoid these Phrases

I believe,

This paper is about

I think that

I want to show you

I want to prove


Steps For Writing a Thesis

Ask yourself a question and then brainstorm possible answers. The best answer to the question is your thesis statement.


Example Question: Who is the most courageous character in the novel?


Brainstorm: Boo, Atticus, Tom, Scout, Jem, Heck Tate

Best Possible Answer: Atticus


Thesis Statement:

Many characters in To Kill a Mockingbird display various forms of courage, but Atticus Finch is clearly the most courageous because he refuses to give up the fight no matter what the circumstances or losses it may bring to himself or family.



Note:  See other strong thesis statements on class handout.


TKAM literary essay

Literary Essay Prewriting Checklist


All of the following steps are part of the prewriting process and should be completed on a separate sheet of paper.  Check off each stage after you have completed it to the best of your ability.


q    Step 1:  See the topics on page one of this packet.  Select one topic you think you would like to work with, and spend some time thinking about these questions and jotting down answers to the questions.  Try to think deeply about your topic.



q    Step 2:  Generate at least one question based on your brainstorming.  (See example on page three under steps for writing a thesis.)



q    Step 3:  Write down an answer to that question.



q    Step 4:  Write down your thesis statement that contains an answer to the question.  (See definition of a thesis on page 3.)  Make sure to write your thesis statement using present tense verbs as the rest of your essay will need to be in present tense. 



q    Step 5:  Brainstorm at least four specific situations from the story that support your thesis.  Write down these situations, and explain in 2-3 sentences how each situation supports your thesis.



q    Step 6:  Write down four quotations that support your thesis and include a page number in the book where you found each quotation.  Explain in 2-3 sentences how each quote supports your thesis.



















Writing Introductions

An Introduction Needs:

***To grab the reader’s attention or provide a hook

***Give background information on the novel.

***To provide a thesis statement.



Good hook strategies for literary essay:

1.      Write a startling fact or opinion

2.      Relate an anecdote

3.      Use vivid, imagistic description

4.      Draw an analogy

5.      Ask a challenging question or a series of questions

6.      Open with dramatic or thoughtful dialogue

7.      Begin with a quotation (not a quote from the novel though)

8.      Explain or describe a universal situation you can then relate to your thesis

9.      Effectively use humor of some kind



Background information you need to include:

1.      Title of book (make sure this is underlined or italicized)

2.      Author

3.      One--four sentences which provides a transition from your attention getter to your thesis statement.



Thesis (See previous sheet)



Homework:  Type your introduction for the next class session.  Make sure you include all of the above.


Student Examples

"That, that, that, that don't kill me, can only make me stronger"--"Stronger" by Kanye West.  These simple yet honest words illustrate a universal idea that every person in the world can understand.  The pain that we can live through will help us to grow into stronger, better, wiser people.  Whether or not we appreciate the difficult situation at the time, it will probably force us to redefine our ideas, our ethics, or even the very essence of ourselves.  Just like many people who have to struggle in reality, Jem Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee clearly exemplifies the concept that hardship creates growth.  Though he may not have always liked what was happening, all of the events which cause him pain make him mature into a competent person with values and beliefs.  Discovering the entrapment of Boo Radley, being torn between childhood and maturity, and experiencing the hateful bigotry of Tom's trial help Jem to mature from the pain and distress he experiences and observes.


Its scientific name is "mimus polyglottos."  It has been immortalized in many ways and is recognized in a timeless children's song where it is celebrated as once having been a popular pet.  It is also a central metaphor in To Kill a Mockingbird.  In this book by Harper Lee, the townspeople of Maycomb have the opinion that mockingbirds are the embodiment of innocence.  This is a prejudiced opinion in the form of a traditional lesson that has been passed down through the generations.  In To Kill a Mockingbird, the use of the bird as a symbol of prejudged innocence allows many people in Maycomb to pass their own biases on to their children.


I think we all can remember the first days of math.  Counting apples seemed to be the most complex problem for me.  But the next year I traveled up to addition and subtraction, then after that, multipication, decimals, and square roots.  I passed them all, moving on to geometry and algebra.  Pretty soon, calculating the distance of the moon, in ratio to the measurement of a single atom became common sense.  The world turned a bit more complicated than counting apples on a worksheet.  Just like math, everyone is taught to grasp the world in a larger perspective.  In the book To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, Jean Louise Finch (Scout) matures in many different steps, to discover the world isn’t just her town of Maycomb.  Although many characters grow up throughout the story, Scout matures the most because she learns about herself and other people.


                In 1999 the FBI reported 7,947 hate crimes in America, against people of different races, religions, and sexual preferences.  But what do all these people have in common?  These people were all “mockingbirds” according to the definition given in the book To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.  Miss Maudie said, “Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy.  They don’t eat up people’s gardens, don’t nest in corncribs, they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us.  That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.” (94)  Just like the hunted birds, people who are persecuted for no reason at all are “mockingbirds.”  In the book, Tom Robinson, the African Americans, and the Finch’s neighbor, Miss Maudie, are all subjects of underserved ridicule by the cowardly 1930s society in Maycomb, Alabama; though one may think that “mockingbirds” are a thing of the past, it is quite clear that they continue to exist in society today.


Gears grind and squeak, as the roller coaster is pulled to the top of the death drop.  Anticipation swells in my stomach, butterflies flutter with the hot dog I ate for lunch.  As speed is quickly gained, wind rushes around my face, causing my eyes to water and my vision to blur.  Entering the first turn, I am thrown against the rough metal of the side of my car, pain flowing through my body.  On the next turn I am prepared, and I now brace for the turn.  As I twist, turn, and struggle, I quickly learn the ways to survive and resist the strains and pulls of the car.  Life is similar to these terrifying yet longed for roller coaster rides.  With every turn in life, we learn a new lesson.  Just as in life, throughout Harper Lee’s novel To Kill a Mockingbird, life lessons are derived from the turns, struggles, and experiences of one of the main characters, Jem Finch.  Of all the characters. Jem matures the most throughout the story because he not only learns about the injustice present in Maycomb, but he begins to see life through an adult perspective.



As a child, I truly believed in the existence of a magical man named Santa Claus.  On the joyous eve of Christmas some years ago, I peered into the mystical sky and swore I saw Rudolph the reindeer’s nose glistening a bright crimson.  A few years later, fate led me wandering into my mother’s closet where I unearthed a bag of toys that would soon be given to me by “Santa.”  I was devastated.  I discovered that reality was actually, well, real.  Yet it seemed that fantasies were just a lot more fulfilling.  Just about everyone has experienced a significant period in his or her life at one time or another that has led to personal growth.  This growth is seen in Harper Lee’s novel To Kill a Mockingbird, which  tells the story of a young Southern tomboy named Jean Louise Finch, or Scout, growing up and finding her true identity in the small county of Maycomb, Alabama.  Many of the characters in this novel mature in their beliefs and opinions throughout the story, but out of all of them, Scout Finch matures and learns the most because of her ability to view the world through others’ perspectives.









Purpose: Your outline should be a detailed map for your draft.


You will want to follow this format when writing your outline.

I.                   Introduction

Write out your introduction completely as it would appear in your essay. Highlight your thesis statement.



II.                Body (For each sub point you will complete this format.)


Sub point (You need a minimum of three—A, B, & C)

· Opening statement of point/ Topic sentence

· Write out at least one (but two or three would be better) quotation or situation from the novel that supports the sub point. Remember to give the page number and some type of lead-in if you use a quotation.

· Write a brief explanation of what this quote or situation means and how it relates to your thesis.

--Keep in mind your final paper must have at least four specific examples from the novel, and at least three of them must be direct quotations.


III.       Conclusion

(We will complete this next class period.)




A transition makes your essay coherent and helps guide the reader from idea to idea. Transitions also clarify and connect ideas presented in the essay. You should use transitions both in the body of your essay (as you move between sub points) and to set off your conclusion. Work on placing transitions in your outline at the beginning of each new paragraph.


For a list of transitions please refer to page 43 of your student handbook and page 16 of this packet.


Avoid These Transitions:

1.       In conclusion

2.       To sum it up

3.      In summary

4.      As I have said




Create an outline using this format.  All outlines should be typed and must be at least one page in length (single-spaced), and your transitions should be highlighted or underlined.   See the sample outline on the next two pages, and use it as a model for your own.



MODEL OUTLINE—Follow this format when typing your outline


I.                    Introduction

Every day countless acts of violence towards people that are "different" occur in our society.  These acts occur simply because our society is full of bias and prejudice. Whether it is a grudge against someone different to hating an entire race, people hold prejudice. This is no different in Maycomb County in the novel To Kill A Mockingbird.  In this novel by Harper Lee the prejudice of a small town in the 1930s is examined and scrutinized when a black man named Tom Robinson is falsely accused and convicted of raping a white woman. Tom Robinson is convicted of rape due to the prejudice and the age old biases of the town, and because he breaks time honored social codes.


II.                The Body   


A.     Evidence of Prejudice in Maycomb County (sub point one)

Opening statement of point:  Even before the trial it is evident that people are very prejudice towards anyone that may be considered different.

      Boo Radley

1.        Rumors about Boo Radley show prejudice in town.

2.       According to the townspeople, “When people’s azaleas froze in a cold snap, it was because he had breathed on them. Any stealthy small crimes committed in Maycomb were his work. Once the town was terrorized by a series of morbid nocturnal events: people’s chickens and household pets were found mutilated; although the culprit was Crazy Addie…people still looked at the Radley place, unwilling to discard their initial suspicions” (13).

3.       They don’t understand Boo so they blame him. Their prejudice holds fast even when it is obvious that someone has done the harm as in the case of Crazy Addie and Boo. He is condemned simply because they don’t understand him.


Lulu at the church

1.       Lula shows prejudice in Maycomb is not only what is different or white vs. black.  But also, some blacks can be prejudice.

2.       “Lula stopped, but she said, “You ain’t got no business bringin’ white chillun here-they got their church, we got our’n” (121).

3.       She is being prejudice in the quotation because she is telling Cal that she does not want the children at church.  This suggests reverse-racism and deep-seated resentment in the town.


B.     Evidence of age-old Bias in Town (sub point two)

Opening statement of point:  In addition to being prejudice, the townspeople of Maycomb hold age-old biases, which affect their decisions.


The lynch mob

1.       The lynch mob shows that the town holds bias and assumptions that blacks are guilty and there is no need for a trial.

2.       “You know what we want,” another man said. “Get aside from the door, Mr. Finch” (153).

3.       The mob shows bias because they already believe him to be guilty and they find it acceptable to take justice into their own hands. He has no chance of being freed if they are trying to convict him before the trial.









C.     Evidence of breaking Social Codes (sub point three)

Opening statement of point: Finally, Tom Robinson is convicted of rape because he breaks time-honored social codes.


Tom feeling sorry for Mayella

1.      In Maycomb county whites are above blacks. Blacks should be pitied not feel pity for whites.

2.      During the trial Tom explains why he busted the chiffarobe, and Gilmer catches him by getting him to admit to taking pity on Mayella.

3.       “Yes suh. I felt right sorry for her, she seemed to try more’n the rest of ‘em”

“You felt sorry for her, your felt sorry for her?” Mr. Gilmer seemed ready to rise to the ceiling. The witness realized his mistake and shifted uncomfortably in the chair…Below us, nobody liked Tom Robinson’s answer” (200).

4.      Tom breaks a social code by admitting to feeling sorry for a white woman.  The town hushes after his comment showing the importance of the social code.


Mayella kissing Tom

1.       This is what causes her to lie and accuse Tom. Never kiss a man of different race in Maycomb. Her lie leads to his guilt.

2.       Atticus explains during his closing argument why Tom is on trial and why Mayella is forced to lie: “She must put Tom Robinson away from her. Tom Robinson was her daily reminder of what she did. What did she do? She tempted a Negro” (206).

3.       It is breaking a social code of not kissing someone of a different race. The town does not want to admit this goes on, so they must convict Tom.



III.             Conclusion (We will work on this later.)



























(of the paper)


The purpose of your body is to support and prove your thesis.  It contains evidence from the text, quotations that are explained and your own ideas.  The body should move from one idea to the next in an organized fashion.


What Every “BODY” Needs:


1.   Evidence

            - This can be both summary and quotations.

            - You need to explain what your evidence means and always relate it back to the text.



      If you were writing about Tom being a Mockingbird a good example would sound like this:


In chapter nineteen, Tom, while on the stand, tells Mr. Gilmer that he was only trying to help Mayella because he felt sorry for her.  After Tom says this, Mr. Gilmer twists his words around to make him look like a criminal instead of someone trying to be charitable.  This illustrates why he is a mockingbird because he was only trying to help and was persecuted for it by the prosecution instead of being left alone.


2.      Quotations

            - This is another form of evidence that supports your argument.

            - Quotations are taken directly from the text and must be cited.

            - Your paper must have a minimum of three quotations.

--Every quotation must be “sandwiched” with an introduction or lead-in to the quote and an explanation (“two pieces of bread”)—see next page for explanation


      How to write a quotation:

            - Quotations that are less than three lines can be worked into the paragraph.


In chapter nineteen, Tom tells Mr. Gilmer, “Yes, suh.  I felt sorry for her, she seemed to try more’n rest of ‘em-“ (197).  Tom is stating that he felt sorry for her suggesting that he had no other motivation in helping her besides being charitable.


      - Quotations that are more than three lines should be indented in their own paragraph.


In chapter twenty, Atticus states:

But there is one way in this country in which all men are created equal – there is one human institution that makes a pauper the equal of a Rockefeller, the stupid man the equal of an

Einstein, and the ignorant man the equal of any college president.  That institution, gentlemen, is

a court. (205)

Atticus believes that courts are a place where everyone is treated equally, but the outcome of the trial contradicts his words.  This suggests...


*Remember that with quotations and evidence you must explain it and tell how it supports your thesis.



Drafting Help Sheet


When writing your rough draft, follow your outline, and remember:  Your ultimate purpose is to prove the thesis statement you wrote in your first paragraph.  All of the evidence should always refer back to that one sentence.


In the body of your paper, you must always SANDWICH your quotations.

            BREAD = introduction of the speaker + context (situation

            surrounding) of quote

            QUOTE = Never just start sentence with quote + remember

            to include page number

            BREAD = explanation of quote + analysis of how it relates back to thesis



The following examples (one long quote and one short quote) are based on the first subpoint of the sample outline and illustrate the idea of sandwiching your quotations:



Even before the trial it is evident that people are very prejudice towards anyone that may be considered different.  One of the first characters who illustrates this prejudice is Boo Radley.  Scout tells Dill at the beginning of the story that many rumors have been circulated throughout the town about why Boo is so strange.  Scout explains:

When people’s azaleas froze in a cold snap, it was because he had breathed on them.  Any stealthy small crimes committed in Maycomb were his work.  Once the town was terrorized by a series of morbid nocturnal events:  people’s chickens and household pets were found mutilated; although the culprit was Crazy Addie…people still looked at the Radley place, unwilling to discard their initial suspicions. (13) 

The town does not understand Boo so they blame him.  Their prejudice holds fast even when it is obvious that someone has done the harm as in the case of Crazy Addie and Boo.  Boo is condemned simply because they don’t understand him.



            Boo Radley is not the only character that illustrates Maycomb is a prejudice society.  Lula demonstrates that blacks as well as whites can be prejudice when Calpurnia brings Scout and Jem to First Purchase Church.  Lula sees the children at the church and yells, “You ain’t got no business bringin’ white chillun here—they got their church, we got our’n" (121).  Lula is being prejudice by telling Calpurnia that she doesn’t want the children at her church simply because they are white.  This once again illustrates the deep-seated resentment between blacks and whites in the town of Maycomb.  













Introducing a Quotation

1.   Verb – Comma

Lula sees the children at the church and she yells, “You ain’t got no business bringin’ white chillun here—they got their church, we got our’n" (121).  Scout and Jem are... 


* Subject – Verb – Comma – Quotation


2.   Sentence – Colon

Atticus explains to the jury that Mayella made up a lie to push away her guilt of breaking a time honored social code:  “She must put Tom Robinson away from her.  Tom Robinson was her daily reminder of what she did.  What did she do?  She tempted a Negro”  (206).  This social code is...


* The colon is used after a complete sentence, and it introduces a quotation that is an explanation or answer.


3.   No colon or comma

      Scout realized that “Atticus was right…you never really know a man until you stand in his shoes                   and walk around in them.  Just standing on the Radley porch was enough” (282).  Scout finally...


* There is no comma after that because the sentence is one continuous thought;  just a phrase is being quoted.


4.   Long Quotation (More than three lines)

In chapter twenty, Atticus states:

But there is one way in this country in which all men are created equal – there is one human institution that makes a pauper the equal of a Rockefeller, the stupid man the equal of an

Einstein, and the ignorant man the equal of any college president.  That institution, gentlemen, is

a court. (205)

      Atticus wants the jury to know...


* The long quotation is still double-spaced (along with the rest of the paper), indented five spaces, and does not require quotation marks.


5.  Dialogue between characters when it is more than three lines long

     Scout and Jem have the following conversation before they discover Dill has run away:

            “How does a snake feel?” Scout asked

            “Sort of rough.  Cold.  Dusty.  Why?”

            “I think there’s one under my bed.  Can you come look?”

“Are you bein’ funny?…If you think think I’m gonna put my face down to a snake you’ve got another thing comin’.  Hold on a minute.” (157)

      Scout is worried...


*The dialogue is still indented + double-spaced, just like all longer quotes.  However, quotation marks are included around the words the characters say. 


6.  Dialogue between characters when it is three lines or less

Before Scout discovers Dill is under her bed, she asks Jem, “How does a snake feel?” Jem tells her, “Sort of rough.  Cold.  Dusty.  Why?” (157).  Scout then realizes...


 *Notice in this case, the dialogue is not indented in any way; it is just worked directly into the paragraph.




 Strategies for Writing a Conclusion

Conclusions are often the most difficult part of an essay to write, and many writers feel that they have nothing left to say after having written the paper. A writer needs to keep in mind that the conclusion is often what a reader remembers best because it is what he/she reads last.


A conclusion should

1.      stress the importance of the thesis statement ( You should restate the thesis in the first 1-2 sentences)

2.      give the essay a sense of completeness

3.      leave a final impression on the reader by answering the question "So What?"



1)  Echoing the introduction:

Echoing your introduction can be a good strategy if it is meant to bring the reader full-circle. If you begin by describing a scenario, you can end with the same scenario as proof that your essay was helpful in creating a new understanding.

Example -- Introduction

From the parking lot, I could see the towers of the castle of the Magic Kingdom standing stately against the blue sky. To the right, the tall peak of The Matterhorn rose even higher. From the left, I could hear the jungle sounds of Adventureland. As I entered the gate, Main Street stretched before me with its quaint shops evoking an old-fashioned small town so charming it could never have existed. I was entranced. Disneyland may have been built for children, but it brings out the child in adults.


Conclusion:   I thought I would spend a few hours at Disneyland, but here I was at 1:00 A.M., closing time, leaving the front gates with the dark towers of the Magic Kingdom behind me. I could see tired children, toddling along and struggling to keep their eyes open as best they could. Others slept in their parents' arms as we waited for the parking lot tram that would take us to our cars. My forty-year-old feet ached, and I felt a bit sad to think that soon I would be leaving California, my vacation over, to go back to my desk. But then I smiled to think that for at least a day I felt ten years old again.




2)  Challenging the reader

By issuing a challenge to your readers, you are helping them to redirect the information in the paper, and they may apply it to their own lives.


Though serving on a jury is not only a civic responsibility but also an interesting experience, many people still view jury duty as a chore that interrupts their jobs and the routine of their daily lives. However, juries are part of America's attempt to be a free and just society. Thus, jury duty challenges us to be interested and responsible citizens.


3)  Looking to the future

Looking to the future can emphasize the importance of your paper or redirect the readers' thought process. It may help them apply the new information to their lives or see things more globally.


Without well-qualified teachers, schools are little more than buildings and equipment. If higher-paying careers continue to attract the best and the brightest students, there will not only be a shortage of teachers, but the teachers available may not have the best qualifications. Our youth will suffer. And when youth suffers, the future suffers.


4)  Posing questions

Posing questions, either to your readers or in general, may help your readers gain a new perspective on the topic, which they may not have held before reading your conclusion. It may also bring your main ideas together to create a new meaning.


Campaign advertisements should help us understand the candidate's qualifications and positions on the issues. Instead, most tell us what a boob or knave the opposing candidate is, or they present general images of the candidate as a family person or God-fearing American. Do such advertisements contribute to creating an informed electorate or a people who choose political leaders the same way they choose soft drinks and soap?


© 1995, 1996, 1997 The Write Place by Randa Holewa











Student Examples


            We are all unique and have different personalities, and religious and moral views.  Unfortunately, some people cannot tolerate these differences.  This nonacceptance has been labeled “prejudice,” something that our society is diminished by as much today as it was in the 1930’s when Harper Lee published To Kill a Mockingbird.  To help our society and our world, one thing we can do for ourselves and those around us is to include and accept, or at least tolerate, others and their differences and stand up for the mockingbirds of our world.



(Note:  This person’s introduction told a story about a boy who was discriminated in her 4th grade class).

            Accordingly in the book, ignorance keeps the wrong traditions from changing, hypocrisy keeps people from being responsible for their ideas, and class divisions make the town divided and unequal.  Like the boy in my fourth grade, people categorize other people for a lot of reasons.  My classmates judged him by how he looked.  Everyone is different, so it is natural to have our own unique feelings.  However, some people cannot accept the differences.  What we can learn from this book is that the boy in Japan should not have been discriminated against in class.  Prejudice has huge consequences and doesn’t solve problems, and people should try to treat others equally.



            If social structures had not been so dominating in Maycomb, Tom Robinson would have likely been found innocent and lived.  It is tragic that a classification determined at birth can be so destructive to a man’s life.  A combination of multiple social levels along with prejudice and resentment was a disaster ready to happen in the 193’s.  Luckily, society has evolved to a place in which people are judged on who they are rather than what they are.  Or has it?



(Note:  This person’s introduction made an analogy between his desire to wear masks and be a superhero as a child and the masks that characters wore in TKAM)

            Throughout To Kill a Mockingbird the children’s perception of Boo Radley is dramatically transformed from a horrible monster to a frightened elder.  His false veneer is believed by all the neighborhood, but he is soon unmasked.  Like Boo, superheroes wear masks and capes to hide their true identities, and as with Boo, everyone, a superhero or not, will eventually be seen for who they really are.