Guiding Questions for Chapters 17 to 21

Chapter 17

  1. What are the main points in Heck Tate's evidence? What does Atticus show in his crossexamination
  2. of Sheriff Tate?
  3. What do we learn indirectly of the home life of the Ewell family in this chapter?
  4. What do you learn from Bob Ewell's evidence?
  5. Why does Atticus ask Bob Ewell to write out his name? What does the jury see when he does
  6. this? Atticus wants to show that Bob is left-handed, which is what the jury sees.


Chapter 18

  1. Is Mayella like her father or different from him? In what ways?
  2. What might be the reason for Mayella's crying in the court?
  3. How does Mayella react to Atticus's politeness? Is she used to people being polite?
  4. How well does Mr. Gilmer prove Tom's guilt in the eyes of the reader (you) and in the eyes of
  5. the jury? Can you suggest why these might be different?


Chapter 19

  1. What made Tom visit the Ewell's house in the first place?
  2. Why does Scout think that Mayella Ewell was “the loneliest person in the world”?
  3. In your own words explain Mayella's relationship with her father.
  4. How does Dill react to this part of the trial? Why is this, in your opinion?
  5. Dill reacts very badly and breaks out into tears. He doesn’t understand how life can be so
  6. unfair.

Chapter 20

  1. Scout says that “Mr. Dolphus Raymond was an evil man.” Is she right?
  2. In most states of the USA people who drink alcohol in public places are required to hide their
  3. bottle in a paper bag. Why does Dolphus Raymond hide Coca-Cola in a bag?
  4. What, according to Atticus, is the thing that Mayella has done wrong?
  5. Explain, in your own words, Atticus's views on people being equal.

Chapter 21
  1. What does Jem expect the verdict to be? Does Atticus think the same?
  2. What is unusual about how long it takes the jury to reach a verdict? Is the verdict predictable or not?
  3. As Scout waits for the verdict, she thinks of earlier events. What are these and how do they remind
    us of the novel's central themes?
  4. Why and how are the events related?