*If you are new here, WELCOME! For To Kill a Mockingbird, I provide your book club with a brief summary, a recipe, and discussion questions in that order!
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is one of the most beloved stories in American history, perhaps the most. It centers around the spirited and spunky Scout Finch as she struggles with a world-view shift and comes of age in a small Southern town rife with prejudice.
While To Kill a Mockingbird is a story many people read during school, maybe you didn’t. Somewhere between changing high schools three times, I missed the required To Kill a Mockingbird reading. It wasn’t until after college that I decided to read it and see what all the fuss was about. So, if you haven’t read it yet, there’s no shame!
I’m going to guess that even those in your book club who have read it will be delighted to read it again. It’s one of those books you can read multiple times and still turn the last page with a smile and that nostalgic feeling that comes after you’ve enjoyed a good visit with old friends.
To Kill a Mockingbird is written in the Southern Gothic style, which means that there is a dark feel to elements of the story. It is also told in first person from the view of Scout, who is almost 6 years old when the story begins. This is a coming-of-age story, and while usually characters emerge from such tales with jaded outlooks, Scout manages to emerge from her ordeal hopeful for the future and fighting the prejudices that rage around her.
“You never really know a man until you stand in his shoes and walk around in them.”-Scout Finch, Chapter 31, To Kill a Mockingbird
With all that’s going on in the world right now, it seems all of us could use a little dose of Scout Finch and her moxie anyhow. Maybe a little wisdom from the ever poignant Atticus Finch, too. So, if members of your book club haven’t read (or re-read) To Kill a Mockingbird, there’s no better time than right now.
If your book club picks To Kill a Mockingbird to read, I’ve provided book club questions and a delicious recipe for your meeting below! So if you are looking for food ideas and more, keep reading!
Here’s a brief summary of To Kill a Mockingbird:
Set in the 1930s Southern town of Maycomb, Alabama, To Kill a Mockingbird follows Scout Finch as she watches through innocent eyes the events that unfold when her white father decides to defend a black man accused of attacking a white woman. Guided by her wise father, Scout grapples with the hidden prejudices that are slowly exposed in the people she loves and ultimately questions her own heart and prejudice against the reclusive neighbor next door.
For the To Kill a Mockingbird recipe:
Harper Lee actually mentioned lots of food throughout the book–like any good Southern read. It was hard to choose a dish, but I ultimately went with Cracklin’ Bread, because Scout says its a rare and favorite treat for her and Harper Lee shared this hilarious take on how to make it!
If cracklin’ bread doesn’t sound right for your book club, here are a some food ideas from the pages of To Kill a Mockingbird:
- Molasses – Walter Cunningham pours syrup all over his vegetables and meat – Chapter 3
- Poundcake – Scout asks Miss Maudie about Boo –Chapter 5
- Chewing Gum—A present from Boo left in the tree for Jem and Scout – Chapter 7
- Lane Cake – Miss Maudie’s secret recipe, mentioned after her house fire – Chapter 8
- “Three kinds of meat, summer vegetables from her pantry shelves; peach pickles, two kinds of cake and ambrosia”—A modest Christmas dinner with Aunt Alexandra – Chapter 9
- Biscuits with syrup and milk; cold chicken and cold fried pork; Coca-Cola; Sardines and crackers with Nehi Cola – Various picnickers on the court house square – Chapter 17
- Coca-Cola bottles in sacks with straws – The truth about Mr. Raymond is revealed – Chapter 20
- Chicken, rolls, salt pork, tomatoes, beans, scuppernongs, pickled pigs’ knuckle –Breakfast sent to Atticus after the trial – Chapter 22
- Charlotte, dewberry tarts, and coffee—Aunt Alexandra’s missionary meeting – Chapter 24
The cracklin’ bread is made by Calpurnia for Scout after her first day of school in Chapter 3. Scout has a pretty rough first day and she’s surprised to find Calpurnia, who is often bristly, has taken the time to make her cracklin’ bread.
In the past, I’m sure it was made in different ways, with different parts of the pig, but I made mine with good ol’ thick cut bacon. To top it off, I sprinkled the bacon with brown sugar and drizzled melted butter over the the top of that.
Essentially, I poured molasses all over the top of my food! But, I think Scout might approve this one time.
The brown sugar gave the bacon just the right amount of sweetness and the combo of brown sugar, bacon and butter added a special crust to the cornbread.
While this cracklin’ bread is tasty, I would recommend serving it will collard greens, beans of any sort, or a favorite soup for a real treat for your book club!
If your book club is looking for food ideas for To Kill a Mockingbird, look no further!
To Kill a Mockingbird Brown Sugar Cracklin’ Bread
- Cast Iron Skillet, if available
For the bread:
- 5-6 strips of bacon
- 1 ½ cup cornmeal
- ½ cup flour
- 4 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp granulated sugar
- 1 ½ cups milk
- 2 eggs
- 3 tbsp oil
For the brown sugar topping:
- 2 tbsp butter melted
- 1 ½ tbsp brown sugar
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
- Cook the bacon in an oven safe skillet if you have one.
- Remove the bacon and reserve just enough grease to coat the skillet (or an 8X8 baking pan).
- Crumble the bacon and set aside.
- In a large bowl, mix the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, salt and granulated sugar.
- Next, mix in the wet ingredients—milk, egg, and oil—until you have a mixture slightly thicker than pancake mix.
- Pour the mix into the greased skillet or pan.
- Sprinkle the cooked bacon on top of the mixture.
- Cook for 17-20 minutes or just before the cornbread is done.
- Remove from the oven and sprinkle the brown sugar evenly over the top. Then, drizzle the melted butter over that.
- Place back into the oven and cook for 3-5 more minutes.
- Serve with warm butter and honey, if desired.
To Kill a Mockingbird Book Club Questions:
*WARNING: May contain spoilers!
- Atticus works throughout the book to show his children that people often make both good and bad choices and to applaud the good while working to resolve the bad. Discuss some of your favorite lessons that Atticus teaches the children either directly or indirectly (with his actions).
- In the end, Scout and Jem “come-of-age,” awakening to the evils around them. Jem becomes embittered by the injustice he sees, but Scout continues to hope in the good of the human spirit. Why do you think Scout has a more resilient outlook in the end than Jem, despite going through the same trials?
- At the end of the book, when Atticus asks Scout if she understands that Mr. Ewell fell on his own knife, she answers yes because exposing Boo would “be sort of like shootin’ a mockingbird.” Discuss this idea. Then discuss the other mockingbirds hurt throughout the book by unnecessary evil (Jem, Dill, Tom Robinson, Mr. Raymond).
- Scout and Jem have an idyllic childhood in their version of Maycomb. It is only as the events of the book transpire that they begin to understand the larger world around them, including the discrimination and poverty many of the citizens endure. How did this ring true of your own experiences as a child? Did you have any similar awakenings to Jem and Scout? Discuss this.
- Scout is one of the most beloved narrators of modern literature. Her quirky, naïve, and bold voice enchants us and draws us to her side. How would this story have changed if Atticus or Jem had been the narrator? What about Boo or Calpurnia?
- Scout’s discrimination against Boo takes the book to a level beyond racial discrimination to discrimination in general and hits on the theme of the book: empathy. When Scout finally sees Boo as a human being, she empathizes with him. After the accident, Boo asks Scout to take him home. Up to this point, Scout has been leading him by the hand around her house. She insists then, that he bend his arm so anyone “would see Arthur Radley escorting me down the sidewalk, as any gentleman would do.” Discuss how Scout shows the definition of empathy in her small action by treating Boo as Arthur Radley, a gentleman and human worthy of respect.
- The novel hosts a cast of fantastic characters. Who was your favorite main character (Atticus, Jem, Scout)? Who was your favorite secondary character (Dill, Mrs. Dubose, Miss Maudie, Calpurnia, Aunt Alexandra, etc.)?
- Do you think that the book would have worked if Tom Robinson hadn’t died? How would it have changed the story if Atticus had filed and won an appeal?
- To Kill a Mockingbird is a Southern Gothic novel with many dark elements throughout the book. Name some of the Gothic elements throughout the book that you noticed (i.e. the rabid dog, the Halloween festival). How do you think this style added to the book?
- Harper Lee won the Pulitzer for To Kill a Mockingbird and published nothing else 55 years until the manuscript of her first attempt at To Kill a Mockingbird was rediscovered and published as Go Set a Watchman. If you’ve read Go Set a Watchman, discuss how it differed from the style, story, and impact of To Kill a Mockingbird.
Have you read To Kill a Mockingbird? What did you think? What are some similar books you’ve read?
Until next time, Happy Reading!
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