Mirroring Atticus: A Text-Complexity Circle Highlights Unconventional Heroes

Jason J. Griffith


This article outlines the arrangement of a text circle in an eighth-grade English language arts class around the novel To Kill a Mockingbird. The author first provides rationale for examining Atticus Finch as a non-traditional hero for his going against the status quo despite consequence to do what's right. The author then establishes that mirror neurons allow student readers to experience literature and emotionally put themselves into situations they might not otherwise experience; and therefore, Atticus is worthy of direct character study. Ancillary texts to support Atticus' heroic example are shared, including the films Gandhi, High Noon, and 12 Angry Men as well as the song "I Won't Back Down.” Finally, excerpts from student responses comparing and contrasting characters in the various texts demonstrate a deeper understanding of the fulcrum text (To Kill a Mockingbird) as well as personal thematic connection by students.


To Kill a Mockingbird; Atticus Finch; text-complexity circle; text set; unconventional heroes; literature; unit plan; empathy

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