To Kill a Mockingbird: Chapters 5-9

Contributor: Melissa Kowalski. Lesson ID: 12732

Have you heard the term, "second banana"? It's not part of a big sundae or your cereal bowl; it's someone who is not as important or prominent as someone else. You will give one a bit more "a-peel"!


Literary Studies

learning style
personality style
Grade Level
High School (9-12)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!

Audio: Image - Button Play
Image - Lession Started Image - Button Start

What is the best, or most unusual, gift you have ever received? How was it delivered?

As you read in the previous Related Lesson (right-hand sidebar), Scout and Jem Finch form the nucleus of the novel as the two protagonists, or main characters.

However, the novel is populated with important secondary characters who reveal much of the information the reader learns about Maycomb and about the two Finch children. Although secondary characters do not have as large of a role in a text as the protagonists, or primary characters, they can play several important roles in a novel and can come in many different forms.

To learn more about the creation and significance of secondary characters, read the following article. As you read, answer the questions below in the notebook or journal that you started keeping for this series in the first lesson:

  • What are two reasons why stories need secondary characters?
  • What is the benefit of having a best friend as a secondary character in a story?
  • How does a sidekick differ from a main character?
  • Why doesn't a reader need to know as much information about secondary characters?
  • What are two types of personal relationships secondary characters can have to a main character?
  • What are three types of professional relationships secondary characters may have to a main character?
  • How do background or walk-on characters differ from developed secondary characters?
  • What is the definition of a character ensemble?

Read Second Bananas and Sidekicks, by Beth Hill, The Editor's Blog.

  • Which characters have you encountered in the first four chapters that qualify as secondary characters?
  • What types of secondary characters are they?

Jot down this list in your notes so you can use it later in the lesson.

Once you've answered the questions and made your character list, read Chapters Five through Nine in To Kill a Mockingbird. Use the copy of the novel which you obtained for the first lesson in this series, whether in print or a digital version of the text. Depending on the copy of the novel you are using, you may come across language that is now deemed racially insensitive. Please note that this language is used intentionally in the novel as both representative of the era in which the novel's events occur and to create a specific tone and attitude in the characters that use this language. As you read, take notes on the secondary characters in the chapters.

  • Who "populates" the world of Jem and Scout?
  • What roles do these characters play?

When you've finished reading and taking notes in your notebook or journal, move on to the Got It? section to explore the plot, characters, and themes of the novel in more detail.

Image - Button Next