To Kill a Mockingbird Activities and Essay – Adapted from EDSITEment
After reading the novel, conduct research regarding the 1931 Scottsboro Trial:
Read the eight-page “Report on the Scottsboro, Ala. Case” made by Miss Hollace Ransdall for the American Civil Liberties Union on May 27, 1931. http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/FTrials/scottsboro/SB_HRrep.html
Background: Miss Ransdall, a teacher and a social activist, was invited by the ACLU to investigate the first of the Scottsboro Boys trials in 1931, and its aftermath.
As you read, compare Miss Ransdalls’s point of view of the trial with Scout’s view of the Tom Robinson trial. Consider point of view (child vs. adult), strengths of one over the other, social position of the narrator, and the role of the defenders.
Compare the Chronology of the Scottsboro Trials to the length of Tom Robinson’s trial in To Kill a Mockingbird. http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/FTrials/scottsboro/scottsb.htm As you read, consider the following: why is it significant that Haywood Patterson was tried four times? Compare his treatment in the trials with Tom Robinson’s treatment in his trial. What does the reader’s perception of the relative speed of Tom Robinson’s conviction suggest about the jury? How does our perception compare with Atticus’ belief that the length of the jury deliberation was actually a victory of sorts?
Using the Lindner website, http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/FTrials/scottsboro/scottsb.htm, read the biographical information of Haywood Patterson, Victoria Price, Ruby Bates, and Judge Horton. Read the court transcripts for Patterson, Price, and Bates along with Judge Horton’s “Warning to Potential Lynchers” and his “Instructions to the Jury on April 8, 1933” from the second trial of Haywood Patterson, Alabama vs. Patterson, March-April 1933. Use the PDF charts provided to note of these historical characters’ distinguishing traits, and instances of courage or cowardice (chart 1). On chart 2, note the similarities or differences you find between the historical and fictional characters of To Kill a Mockingbird especially in terms of courage: Haywood Patterson and Tom Robinson; Victoria Price and Mayella Ewell, and Ruby Bates and Mayella Ewell; Judge Horton and Atticus Finch. As you conduct this research, consider the following: in what ways does a fictional account of courtroom drama differ from a more historical account?
Read the three “Excerpts from Summations” http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/FTrials/scottsboro/SB_tri33tml.html Consider the following questions: what do the prosecutors’ closing arguments reveal about race relations in the south in 1933? Is the defense’s summation persuasive or not? What does the defense reveal about race, regional, and religious views in 1933 America? How does the summation compare to Atticus’ summary?
Essay – Choose 1 of the following essay prompts:
Discuss the various types of courage manifested in To Kill a Mockingbird and in the Scottsboro Trials. Use textual evidence as support.
Based on your readings of an actual court case – The Scottsboro Trials – does Atticus Finch’s courageous defense of Tom Robinson seem realistic or overly idealistic? Explain, using textual evidence as support.