Past exam questions: To Kill A Mocking Bird (AQA)

January 17, 2016 Michelle F

Practice questions from past AQA exam papers for To Kill a Mocking Bird, by Harper Lee

June  2013

Harper Lee : To Kill a Mockingbird

OR Question 24

Read the following passage and then answer Part (a) and Part (b).

The little man seemed to have forgotten his previous humiliation from the bench. It was becoming evident that he thought Atticus an easy match. He seemed to grow ruddy again; his chest swelled, and once more he was a red little rooster. I thought he’d burst his shirt at Atticus’s next question:

‘Mr Ewell, can you read and write?’

Mr Gilmer interrupted. ‘Objection,’ he said. ‘Can’t see what witness’s literacy has to do with the case, irrelevant’n’immaterial.’

Judge Taylor was about to speak but Atticus said, ‘Judge, if you’ll allow the question plus another one you’ll soon see.’

‘All right, let’s see,’ said Judge Taylor, ‘but make sure we see, Atticus. Overruled.’

Mr Gilmer seemed as curious as the rest of us as to what bearing the state of Mr Ewell’s education had on the case.

‘I’ll repeat the question,’ said Atticus. ‘Can you read and write?’
‘I most positively can.’
‘Will you write your name and show us?’
‘I most positively will. How do you think I sign my relief checks?’
Mr Ewell was endearing himself to his fellow citizens. The whispers and chuckles below

us probably had to do with what a card he was.
I was becoming nervous. Atticus seemed to know what he was doing – but it seemed to

me that he’d gone frog-sticking without a light. Never, never, never, on cross-examination ask a witness a question you don’t already know the answer to, was a tenet I absorbed with my baby-food. Do it, and you’ll often get an answer you don’t want, an answer that might wreck your case.

Atticus was reaching into the middle pocket of his coat. He drew out an envelope, then reached into his vest pocket and unclipped his fountain-pen. He moved leisurely, and had turned so that he was in full view of the jury. He unscrewed the fountain-pen cap and placed it gently on his table. He shook the pen a little, then handed it with the envelope to the witness. ‘Would you write you name for us?’ he asked. ‘Clearly now, so the jury can see you do it.’

Mr Ewell wrote on the back of the envelope and looked up complacently to see Judge Taylor staring at him as if he were some fragrant gardenia in full bloom on the witness stand, to see Mr Gilmer half-sitting, half-standing at his table. The jury was watching him, one man was leaning forward with his hands over the railing.

Part (a)

In this passage, what methods does Lee use to present the characters and events in this part of the trial? Refer closely to the passage in your answer.

and then Part (b)

In the rest of the novel, how does Lee use the trial of Tom Robinson to show some of the attitudes of Maycomb society? (30 marks) SPaG: (4 marks)

Jan 2013 Harper Lee : To Kill a Mockingbird

OR Question 24

Read the following passage and then answer Part (a) and Part (b).

‘Come on round here, son, I got something that’ll settle your stomach.’

As Mr Dolphus Raymond was an evil man I accepted his invitation reluctantly, but
I followed Dill. Somehow, I didn’t think Atticus would like it if we became friendly with Mr Raymond, and I knew Aunt Alexandra wouldn’t.

‘Here,’ he said, offering Dill his paper sack with straws in it. ‘Take a good sip, it’ll quieten you.’

Dill sucked on the straws, smiled, and pulled at length.
‘Hee hee,’ said Mr Raymond, evidently taking delight in corrupting a child.
‘Dill, you watch out, now,’ I warned.
Dill released the straws and grinned. ‘Scout, it’s nothing but Coca-Cola.’
Mr Raymond sat up against the tree-trunk. He had been lying on the grass. ‘You

little folks won’t tell on me now, will you? It’d ruin my reputation if you did.’
‘You mean all you drink in that sack’s Coca-Cola? Just plain Coca-Cola?’ ‘Yes ma’am,’ Mr Raymond nodded. I liked his smell: it was of leather, horses,

cottonseed. He wore the only English riding-boots I had ever seen. ‘That’s all I drink, most of the time.’

‘Then you just pretend you’re half—? I beg your pardon, sir,’ I caught myself. ‘I didn’t mean to be—’

Mr Raymond chuckled, not at all offended, and I tried to frame a discreet question: ‘Why do you do like you do?’

‘Wh – oh yes, you mean why do I pretend? Well, it’s very simple,’ he said. ‘Some folks don’t – like the way I live. Now I could say the hell with ’em, I don’t care if they don’t like it. I do say I don’t care if they don’t like it, right enough – but I don’t say the hell with ’em, see?

Dill and I said, ‘No sir.’

‘I try to give ’em a reason, you see. It helps folks if they can latch on to a reason. When I come to town, which is seldom, if I weave a little and drink out of this sack, folks can say Dolphus Raymond’s in the clutches of whisky – that’s why he won’t change his ways. He can’t help himself, that’s why he lives the way he does.’

‘That ain’t honest, Mr Raymond, making yourself out badder’n you are already—’

‘It ain’t honest but it’s mighty helpful to folks. Secretly, Miss Finch, I’m not much of a drinker, but you see they could never, never, understand that I live like I do because that’s the way I want to live.’

I had a feeling that I shouldn’t be here listening to this sinful man who had mixed children and didn’t care who knew it, but he was fascinating. I had never encountered a being who deliberately perpetrated fraud against himself. But why had he entrusted us with his deepest secret? I asked him why.

‘Because you’re children and you can understand it,’ he said. ...

Part (a)

In this passage, how does Lee present Mr Dolphus Raymond? Refer closely to the passage in your answer.

and then Part (b)

After this passage, Mr Dolphus Raymond talks about “the hell white people give
coloured folks”.
In the rest of the novel, how does Lee show white people giving the black community “hell”? (30 marks) SPaG: (4 marks)

June 2012

Harper Lee : To Kill a Mockingbird

OR Question 24

Read the following passage and then answer Part (a) and Part (b).

‘What’d you get for Christmas?’ I asked politely.

‘Just what I asked for,’ he said. Francis had requested a pair of knee-pants, a red leather booksack, five shirts and an untied bow-tie.

‘That’s nice,’ I lied. ‘Jem and me got air-rifles, and Jem got a chemistry set—’
‘A toy one, I reckon.’
‘No, a real one. He’s gonna make me some invisible ink, and I’m gonna write to Dill in it.’ Francis asked what was the use of that.
‘Well, can’t you just see his face when he gets a letter from me with nothing in it? It’ll

drive him nuts.’
Talking to Francis gave me the sensation of settling slowly to the bottom of the ocean.

He was the most boring child I ever met. As he lived in Mobile, he could not inform on me to school authorities, but he managed to tell everything he knew to Aunt Alexandra, who in turn unburdened herself to Atticus, who either forgot it or gave me hell, whichever struck his fancy. But the only time I ever heard Atticus speak sharply to anyone was when I once heard him say, ‘Sister I do the best I can with them!’ It had something to do with my going around in overalls.

Aunt Alexandra was fanatical on the subject of my attire. I could not possibly hope to be a lady if I wore breeches; when I said I could do nothing in a dress, she said I wasn’t supposed to be doing things that required pants. Aunt Alexandra’s vision of my deportment involved playing with small stoves, tea-sets, and wearing the Add-A-Pearl necklace she gave me when I was born; futhermore, I should be a ray of sunshine in my father’s lonely life. I suggested that one could be a ray of sunshine in pants just as well, but Aunty said that one had to behave like a sunbeam, that I was born good but had grown progressively worse every year. She hurt my feelings and set my teeth permanently on edge, but when I asked Atticus about it, he said there were already enough sunbeams in the family and to go on about my business, he didn’t mind me much the way I was.

At Christmas dinner, I sat at the little table in the dining-room; Jem and Francis sat with the adults at the dining table. Aunty had continued to isolate me long after Jem and Francis graduated to the big table. I often wondered what she thought I’d do, get up and throw something? I sometimes thought of asking her if she would let me sit at the big table with the rest of them just once, I would prove to her how civilized I could be; after all, I ate at home every day with no major mishaps. When I begged Atticus to use his influence, he said he had none – we were guests, and we sat where she told us to sit. He also said Aunt Alexandra didn’t understand girls much, she’d never had one.

Part (a)

In this passage, what methods does Lee use to present Scout’s feelings about Aunt Alexandra and Francis? Refer closely to the passage in your answer.

and then Part (b)

In the novel, how does Lee show that other people expect Scout to behave in particular ways? What do you think these expectations show about the society in which the novel is set? (30 marks)

Jan 2012

Harper Lee : To Kill a Mockingbird

OR Question 24

Read the following passage and then answer part (a) and part (b).

‘I simply want to tell you that there are some men in this world who were born to do our unpleasant jobs for us. Your father’s one of them.’

‘Oh,’ said Jem. ‘Well.’

‘Don’t you oh well me, sir,’ Miss Maudie replied, recognizing Jem’s fatalistic noises, ‘you are not old enough to appreciate what I said.’

Jem was staring at his half-eaten cake. ‘It’s like bein’ a caterpillar in a cocoon, that’s what it is,’ he said. ‘Like somethin’ asleep wrapped up in a warm place. I always thought Maycomb folks were the best folks in the world, least that’s what they seemed like.’

‘We’re the safest folks in the world,’ said Miss Maudie. ‘We’re so rarely called on to be Christians, but when we are, we’ve got men like Atticus to go for us.’

Jem grinned ruefully. ‘Wish the rest of the county thought that.’
‘You’d be surprised how many of us do.’
‘Who?’ Jem’s voice rose. ‘Who in this town did one thing to help Tom Robinson, just

‘His coloured friends for one thing, and people like us. People like Judge Taylor.

People like Mr Heck Tate. Stop eating and start thinking, Jem. Did it ever strike you that Judge Taylor naming Atticus to defend that boy was no accident? That Judge Taylor might have had his reasons for naming him?’

This was a thought. Court-appointed defences were usually given to Maxwell Green, Maycomb’s latest addition to the bar, who needed the experience. Maxwell Green should have had Tom Robinson’s case.

‘You think about that,’ Miss Maudie was saying. ‘It was no accident. I was sittin’ there on the porch last night, waiting. I waited and waited to see you all come down the sidewalk, and as I waited I thought, Atticus Finch won’t win, he can’t win, but he’s the only man in these parts who can keep a jury out so long in a case like that. And I thought to myself, well, we’re making a step - it’s just a baby-step, but it’s a step.’

‘’t’s all right to talk like that - can’t any Christian judges an’ lawyers make up for heathen juries,’ Jem muttered. ‘Soon’s I get grown—’

‘That’s something you’ll have to take up with your father,’ Miss Maudie said.

Part (a)

How does Lee use details in this passage to present Miss Maudie’s view of Maycomb? and then Part (b)

In the novel as a whole, how does Lee show what life was like in a small town such as Maycomb in 1930s southern America? (30 marks)

Harper Lee: To Kill a Mockingbird

OR Question 24

Read the following passage and then answer Part (a) and Part (b).

Tim Johnson reached the side-street that ran in front of the Radley Place, and what remained of his poor mind made him pause and seem to consider which road he would take. He made a few hesitant steps and stopped in front of the Radley gate; then he tried to turn around, but was having difficulty.

Atticus said, ‘He’s within range, Heck. You better get him now before he goes down the side street - Lord knows who’s around the corner. Go inside, Cal.’
Calpurnia opened the screen door, latched it behind her, then unlatched it and held on to the hook. She tried to block Jem and me with her body, but we looked out from beneath her arms.

‘Take him, Mr Finch.’ Mr Tate handed the rifle to Atticus; Jem and I nearly fainted. ‘Don’t waste time, Heck,’ said Atticus. ‘Go on.’
‘Mr Finch, this is a one-shot job.’
Atticus shook his head vehemently: ‘Don’t just stand there, Heck! He won’t wait all

day for you—’
‘For God’s sake, Mr Finch, look where he is! Miss and you’ll go straight into the

Radley house! I can’t shoot that well and you know it!’
‘I haven’t shot a gun in thirty years—’
Mr Tate almost threw the rifle at Atticus. ‘I’d feel mighty comfortable if you did now,’

he said.
In a fog, Jem and I watched our Father take the gun and walk out into the middle of

the street. He walked quickly, but I thought he moved like an underwater swimmer; time had slowed to a nauseating crawl.

When Atticus raised his glasses Calpurnia murmured, ‘Sweet Jesus help him,’ and put her hands to her cheeks.

Atticus pushed his glasses to his forehead; they slipped down, and he dropped them in the street. In the silence, I heard them crack. Atticus rubbed his eyes and chin; we saw him blink hard.

In front of the Radley gate, Tim Johnson had made up what was left of his mind. He had finally turned himself around, to pursue his original course up our street. He made two steps forward, then stopped and raised his head. We saw his body go rigid.

With movements so swift they seemed simultaneous, Atticus’s hand yanked a ball-tipped lever as he brought the gun to his shoulder.

The rifle cracked. Tim Johnson leaped, flopped over and crumpled on the sidewalk in a brown-and-white heap. He didn’t know what hit him.

Part (a)

(a) What methods does Lee use to build up a sense of danger in this passage?

and then Part (b)

(b) How does Lee use Atticus in one other event in the novel to show injustice
in America in the 1930s? (30 marks)


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