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Movies To Kill a Mockingbird; A Secret Gift; Grapes of Wrath

In the early years of the Great Depression in Maycomb, Alabama, a black man is accused of beating and raping a white woman.  Local attorney Atticus Finch is asked by the judge to defend the accused, Tom Robinson.  In addition, there is another plot line involving the Finch’s reclusive neighbor, Bo Ridley.  The film, based on Harper Lee’s classic novel by the same name, probes race, class and disability stereotypes in America.  Following two or three paragraphs summarizing the plot, address the following questions:

Throughout the film, small town Southern society is described and defined. Specifically what events in the film help you understand life in the early 1930s Alabama?
Why was Atticus so sure Tom Robinson would be convicted in the first trial, despite overwhelming evidence of his innocence?
Why did Tom Robinson try to escape, in spite of Atticus’ assurances the conviction would be overturned on appeal.
What is the significance of the film’s title?
What is the meaning of the rabid dog coming down the road toward town?
Why is the movie narrated by Scout? What does this young girl bring to the story

In a concluding paragraph explain how “To Kill A Mockingbird” helps you understand the American past as well as the development of liberty. Though the Ku Klux Klan is not a part of the story, how does Charles D. Levy’s letter and its accompanying commentary (Young, Dwight. Dear Mr. President. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society, 2005. Pp.38-39.) relate? How does Tom Robinson’s situation compare to that of the Rudkis family?

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Prior to one Christmas during the depth of the Great Depression Sam Stone offers $5.00 (approximately $85.00 today) to 150 needy individuals.

Who was Sam Stone, what prompted him to do this, and who were the recipients.
What was life like for average Americans living in and around Canton, Ohio during the Great Depression?
What prompts investigative reporter Gup to look into this event, and what does he find during his research?

Following 1-2 paragraphs of summary, in 2-3 pages address the issue of severe poverty/deprivation caused by the economic collapse of the 1920s.  Consider the feelings of the people who wrote as well as the response (or lack thereof) of the government.

In a concluding paragraph compare the plight of the people aided by Sam Stone with the Rudkis and Joad families. Explain how this book helps you understand the American past as well as the development of liberty.

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Directed by John Ford and produced by Daryl Zanuck, this film follows the trials and tribulations of the Joad’s extended family as greed forces them and thousands like them from the Great Plains to California, a land thought to be flowing with milk and honey. How do the author of the novel, John Steinbeck, and the director of the movie, John Ford, use the major characters to explore fundamental aspects of American society?

In 1-2 paragraphs summarize the movie, and then in 2-3 pages describe your reaction to this portrayal of the Great Depression. Reflect on the central themes of the movie, specifically what messages the director wants the audience to take away.

To what extent and in what ways is this a film of suffering?
To what extent is this a film of hope?
What is the ultimate message?

In two concluding paragraphs explain how “The Grapes of Wrath” helps you understand the American past as well as the development of liberty.    In a second paragraph explore the suffering of the Joad family to that of the Rudkis family.

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