You are about to read the novel, To Kill a Mockingbird. The story is set in the sleepy town of Maycomb, Alabama. Atticus Finch is asked to defend a black man charged with the rape of a white woman. Through the young eyes of his children, Scout and Jem Finch, Harper Lee explores the irrationality of adult attitudes toward race and class in the Deep South of the 1930’s. The consciousness of a town steeped in prejudice, violence, and hypocrisy is pricked by the quiet heroism of one man’s struggle for justice. To best understand the lessons of this great novel, you must first understand the author, the times, and the place in which the story is set.
Your task for this Webquest is to visit various websites (provided for you) to learn the needed background information before starting the novel. Each website will also have a few questions for you to answer, simply to ensure that you are finding the important material at each site. This Webquest will give you a good feel for the 1930’s and a good understanding of the historical context of the novel as well; therefore, you will be much more equipped to understand the introductory notes to follow and the novel itself.
You should answer all questions thoroughly and on your own paper. You may type your answers if you want to. You have ample time to complete ALL questions; so be sure to SPEND YOUR TIME WISELY. The questions will be graded for correctness!
You will be working with a partner for this assignment. One of you should be in charge of finding the appropriate websites, while the other writes the answers. However, both of you should observe the websites and both of you should provide input on the answers.
After completing this activity, you should have learned the following:
- Background information of the author, Harper Lee
- Historical background of the times
- Insight into some of the events in the novel
1. Where did the term, “Jim Crow,” originate from?
2. After the year 1900, what did the term, “Jim Crow,” become identified with?
3. What Supreme Court case upheld segregation, or “separate but equal?”
4. Who was Booker T. Washington? What was his stance on the segregation debates?
5. What was the name of the new literary movement, based in Harlem, New York, which featured “New Negro” poetry and literature that emphasized self-respect and defiance under the Jim Crow laws?
6. How did some southern black people try to resist and escape the Jim Crow laws?
7. What does the term, “Black Thursday,” refer to in regards to the US around the Great Depression?
8. What was the date of Black Thursday?
9. Explain how the Wall Street Crash led to The Great Depression.
Websites for #3 – American History 1930-1939
Use the following sites to find the information needed to answer these questions.
10. During The Great Depression, many Dust Bowl farmers packed their families into cars and headed where?
11. Why did the farmers go?
12. What did the sculptor, Gutzon Borglum, create?
13. Why were these presidents chosen for this monument?
14. Observe the painting, American Gothic (on the website). Describe Grant Wood’s famous work. What does it look like? What kind of life does it portray?
15. What was fashion like during the 1930’s? Observe the pictures on the site and read about the trends during the times.
16. Who were some of the prominent authors of the time? What famous works are they responsible for?
17. What were The Scottsboro Boys known for? Who were they? What did they do? How did they get in so much trouble?
18. The Scottsboro Boys’ attorneys were extremely incompetent. How did the defense attorneys show their lack of experience?
19. Were The Scottsboro Boys ever pardoned of their wrongful convictions?
20. What work is Harper Lee most famous for writing?
21. When did she win the Pulitzer Prize and for what piece of literature?
22. What famous Civil War general is Harper Lee related to?
23. Where and during what time is Lee’s novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, set?
24. Based on the Maycomb County map, the Finch’s live next door to whom?
25. Whose house is the school behind?