You’re Invited to a Party: Character Analysis & To Kill a Mockingbird

You are cordially invited to tea with Aunt Alexandra!

These past two months my students have been reading Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird.  To help students understand the different experiences and perspectives of all characters involved, there needed to be some sort of activity that would allow my students to “walk in another person’s shoes,” as Atticus Finch told his daughter Scout in the beginning of the novel.  

Throughout the novel the reader only hears Scout’s voice.  However, after the traumatic occurrences that the Maycomb community experienced, it was important that the community members come together to share their own points of view.  After all, so many people have so many different sides of the story to tell.  So, on this VERY rare occasion, students had the opportunity to dine and delight with ALL of the Maycomb citizens. Yes, my students became the characters and community members in To Kill a Mockingbird to gain a deeper understanding of each and every character in the novel.

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To prepare for this activity, students chose a character to get to know especially well.  Students were to BECOME this character in style, demeanor, dress, speech, ideas, and point of view. 

This required some close rereading of the text. Students were asked to search throughout the book and find five different quotes that highlight different aspects of their character.

Then, students wrote a diary entry explaining information about themselves: occupation, something about family or personal life, accomplishments or achievements, what the character is known for, and how the character feels about the trial. Students were asked to explain how the trial affected the character personally, indirectly and directly. In addition, students answered the following questions:

What do you want to see happen in your town now? 

What message/lesson do you feel people have learned, if any? 

Do you predict changes or status quo? Explain.

Before the actual tea party, students were asked to prepare a series of questions they would want to ask other characters in the novel.  If given the chance to talk one on one with these people, what would that character like to know?  Students were to come up with at least 10 questions to ask, and write them on a notecard and bring the notecard to the tea party.

The day of the tea party students were to come in a realistic costume and with a prop the character would bring along. Students also  prepares an authentic Southern dish or drink for this social hour.  

TEA PARTY ETIQUETTE:

  1. You should ONLY HAVE ONE-ON-ONE CONVERSATIONS!
  2. When Aunty says “Mingle” you should shift to speak to another person at the tea.  Your goal is to meet as many people as possible.
  3. You must ALWAYS stay in character.
  4. Keep in mind basic Southern rules of politeness; even mortal ENEMIES wouldn’t make a big scene at the Finch home.

This activity was originally shared with me by a colleague and I have adapted some of it for my students.  He first found this idea online. 

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2 thoughts on “You’re Invited to a Party: Character Analysis & To Kill a Mockingbird

  1. What a fantastic idea. I teach TKAM to my freshmen, but save it for toward the end of the year. This would certainly be an event to look forward to, a reason to engage with the characters. Sounds like you had them choose their characters after reading or near the end of the novel. I think, in order to keep mine engaged, I may have them choose mid-way. Do you have other suggestions for making this work well?

    • I handed out the assignment at the beginning of the trail and students had more than two weeks to collect evidence about their character. The Tea Party event was held after we finished the book. Depending on who you students are, you might want to create a graphic organizer to help students scaffold the information about their character; this is something that I might do next year to help those students who have minor characters. The graphic organizer can contain a column for finding the quotes the character said or are said about them, another column that allows students to draft ideas what the quotes reveal about the character, and the last column for synthesis (the “so what?”). My students really enjoyed the activity as a whole and I would recommend any teacher offer an activity like this to tap into higher order thinking skills and multiple intelligences in their classroom.

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