The year is 1925, and the students of Dayton, Tennessee, are ready for a summer of fishing, swimming, some working, and drinking root beer floats at Robinson’s Drugstore. But when their science teacher, J. T. Scopes, is arrested for having taught Darwin’s theory of evolution in class, it seems it won’t be just any ordinary summer in Dayton. As Scopes’ trial proceeds, the small town is faced with astonishing, nationwide publicity: reporters, lawyers, scientists, religious leaders, and tourists. But amidst the circus-like atmosphere is a threatening sense of tension–not only in the courtroom, but among even the strongest of friends. This compelling novel in poems chronicles a controversy with a profound impact on science and culture in America–and one that continues to this day. From the Hardcover edition.
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Narrators In Ringside
These are the characters you will meet in the book. Read each description to get an idea of who they are and the role they play.
In this text you will be introduced to two theories about the origin of man: Evolutionism and Creationism. Watch this video to get an idea of what these theories are about. (This annotation contains a video)
This story takes place during which season?
In one beautiful sentence, explain the theory of "evolution." Reference the text to help you use precise language in your explanation.
Did you know that you can look up any word in the book or in the questions and answer choices? Just click (or press on mobile devices) the word you want to define and hold until the blue text selector pops up. When you release, a define option will appear. Use this feature to look up the word "mammals."
Authors introduce the setting and characters in the first few pages of a book. This story takes place in Dayton, Tennessee, and the year is 1925. As you read, notice aspects of the setting and characters that the author introduces.
The author distinguishes Marybeth from her father by
Authors often teach readers about historical events through the lives of characters. The Butler Act was a 1925 Tennessee law prohibiting public school teachers from denying the Biblical account of man's origin. The law also prevented the teaching of the evolution of man from what it referred to as lower orders of animals in place of the Biblical account.
Each section switches between characters; giving each of them a role as narrator. Watch this video to learn how authors structure a text. (This annotation contains a video)
To structure this story, the author
The author includes Betty's point of view to show that
Consider how this image represents the rift between God and science. (This annotation contains an image)
In 2-3 sentences, explain what Betty Barker does and why she does it. Consider what you read about her in the chapter she narrates.
In these lines Constable is telling us how tranquil and serene Rhea County is. This incident with Betty is an anomaly that is causing quite a stir in the town. (This annotation contains an image)
The author is teaching you about old American culture, tradition and histories through the characters. Tarring and feathering is a form of public humiliation, used to enforce unofficial justice or revenge. As you read, notice other archaic words or phrases the characters use as they speak.
Based on the context, what does this phrase most likely mean?
Which line from the text best shows that Ernest McManus has been dedicated to the church for an exceptional amount of time?
Through the characters, the author creates strong tones and moods in this story. Consider how the speakers feel about certain topics based on the words and phrases they use to describe them. Consider how their words make you feel. (This annotation contains a video)
Holy Rollers are members of an evangelical Christian group that express religious fervor through frenzied excitement or trances. Watch this video to get an idea of what their gatherings are like. (This annotation contains a video)
What does Ernest's encounter with the bee allow him to experience?
What does this line reveal about the speaker?
This line is a simile. Watch this video and figure out what this simile means. (This annotation contains a video)
This book is based on real events. Clarence Darrow was an American lawyer and leading member of the American Civil Liberties Union. He was best known for defending teenage thrill killers Leopold and Loeb in their trial for murdering 14-year-old Robert "Bobby" Franks (1924). His other big case, as represented in this book, was defending John T. Scopes in the Scopes "Monkey" Trial (1925). (This annotation contains a link)
What does this simile reveal about Clarence Darrow?
Jimmy uses this simile as a way to compare himself to a firefly because
Based on this line, we can tell Mama is a church goer and does not believe in evolutionism. We can infer this because Jimmy reveals that she would be upset if he goes to meet Clarence Darrow.
Which central idea does this line reveal?
Use the define feature to learn what an "airfield" is.
This is an excerpt from one of Bryan's real life speeches titled "Cross of Gold." As you listen, imagine what it is like for the characters to witness his speech. (This annotation contains a video)
This line most likely means the people in town are _________ with the Mr. Bryan's speech.
How does the setting contribute to the topics Tillie and Marybeth discuss in this section?
The Ku Klux Klan (KKK) is a group that played a violent role against African Americans in the South during the Reconstruction era until the early 20th century. We can tell she is making reference to the KKK because she and Tillie have just washed white sheets which are known to be the typical attire for klan members. (This annotation contains an image)
The author includes the anecdotes about Copernicus and the golden chariot in this section to
Use the define feature to learn what "precedent" means.
These lines are significant and embody a central idea. Which central idea do they convey?
Palm leaf fans are often used in churches when the weather is warm. As you read, continue to notice aspects of the setting and consider why the author places them in the story. (This annotation contains an image)
Read this poem about southern life then respond to the question below. (This annotation contains a link)
In these lines, Marybeth is describing the meal she is cooking for the men. How do the poem about southern life and her words compare?
This metaphor reveals
Use the define feature to learn the meaning of "seniority."
The author includes this detail to show
The formal name for this trial is "The Scopes Trial." However, since the debate is about whether or not humans originated from apes, people in the town call it "Monkey Trial."
After watching the news clip in the annotation, how closely does the author capture the accuracy of the trial?
You have learned a great deal about this historical trial. Watch this news clip and think about how much knowledge the author actually has of this historical event. (This annotation contains a video)
The author most likely includes these lines which reveal Tillie's excitement to show that
These lines reveal that Tillie and Marybeth are becoming more excited about the commotion that is occurring in Dayton. Watch this video to learn how characters develop in a story. (This annotation contains a video)
Paul is using the word "fortified" to describe his current state. What is he suggesting?
In society today, fundamentalist preachers are often associated with negative connotations. Here, Paul is suggesting that Mr. Scopes is being attacked by an aggressor.
When a law is unconstitutional, it is not in accordance with the written laws of the United States constitution. As you consider the facts of the trial, think about whether or not Mr. Scopes' actions are within his constitutional rights of free speech.
This is another example of Marybeth's transformation as a character. This line reveals
This is what wagon's looked like in the 1920s. Use this image to help you visualize Willy and his father going to Morgan Springs on the wagon. (This annotation contains an image)
How has the trial changed the commerce in this small town?
Which line from the text best demonstrates Fraybel's sincere distaste with the trial?
This is the cover of Hunter's "Civic Biology" textbook from the 1920's. (This annotation contains an image)
What do these lines reveal about Morgan's feelings as he approaches the stand?
In this section, the students are giving their testimonies of what happened in the classroom. This is an image of a courtroom. When someone takes the stand to be a witness, they sit where the man is. The judge sits where the woman is. Imagine the characters in this setting. (This annotation contains an image)
What does this line reveal about the change that occurs in the town as a result of the Scopes Trial?
Use the define feature to learn what "oratory" means.
Which theme do these lines reveal?
Working conditions in the 1920s were far more difficult than they are today. Read this article to learn more about what working conditions were like in the first half of the 20th century. (This annotation contains a link)
Which line reveals that Mr. Clarence Darrow is an intimidating man?
Using what you've learned through the character's anecdotes, explain what has happened in the trial so far.
A zoologist is a scientist who studies animals. Zoologists are experts on everything about animals, from their cells to the history of their evolution. Think about why the defense brought a zoologist to court. (This annotation contains an image)
These lines reveal that the plot is moving forward in a different direction. From the judges actions, we learn that
Freedom of speech is an underlying issue in this story. Read the first paragraph of this article to learn about the First Amendment which protects freedom of speech. (This annotation contains a link)
Which line from the text best shows that we are nearing the end of the trial?
Why do you think Mr. Nelson wants Peter to visit him in Nashville after high school?
In a court of law, there are two sides that are debated. One is the defense and the other is the prosecution. The defense is in charge of protecting and defending the accused, whereas the prosecution is in place to present evidence against the accused.
The author most likely includes these lines to
The author most likely uses the phrase "acid-tongued" to describe Mencken
The Baltimore Sun is the U.S. state of Maryland’s largest general-circulation daily newspaper. (This annotation contains an image)
Al Jolson was a Jewish Lithuanian-born American singer, film actor, and comedian. At the peak of his career, he was dubbed "The World's Greatest Entertainer." This is him singing and a sample of the type of music people listened to during this time period. (This annotation contains a video)
Jimmy's anecdote and his perspective on life show that he is
Which line from the text best shows that Pete and Jimmy have a strong relationship?
Lou Gehrig was an American baseball first baseman who played 17 seasons in Major League Baseball for the New York Yankees. This is another example of the author giving you historical context. (This annotation contains an image)
Consider what Marybeth was like in the beginning of the story. In 2-3 sentences tell how she has changed and why she has changed.
In this line, Marybeth is discovering what it is like for Christian women to break out of gender roles that are traditionally associated with the religion. This reveals a transformation in her thinking and personality.
Why did the author include these lines?
Flapjacks with strawberry jam is a staple of southern cuisine. (This annotation contains an image)
This is a photograph of the actual sign that was put up on the building. (This annotation contains an image)
What does this action reveal about Betty's reaction to the judge's decision to take down the sign?
Good readers think deeply about the characters in a story. Watch this video then respond to the next question. (This annotation contains a video)
Based on his actions, Mr. Bryan is a
Whittling sticks is an activity that mostly happens in rural settings. (This annotation contains an image)
The phrase "firing questions" most likely means that Mr. Darrow
The author most likely includes this line to
According to Genesis, Adam and Eve are part of the creation of man. This story will not be found in a textbook about evolution. (This annotation contains an image)
What does this line mean, and why did it happen?
This image is in Ernest's head. (This annotation contains an image)
Which line from this section best shows that when it comes to matters of scientific opinion and religion, relationships can be compromised?
This image shows what the Mansion may look like. Visualize the character's sitting there having conversations. (This annotation contains an image)
Historically, this is a short time to reach a verdict. Based on the events that occurred, why might it have only taken the jury 9 minutes to make their decision?
Mr. Scopes is found guilt and is fined. At this time, $100 was a lot of money.
What is Marybeth revealing to us in this line?
Marybeth is making a reference to the cat from Alice in Wonderland. Examine this image and consider how Tillie feels in this moment. (This annotation contains an image)
Despite his new found open-mindedness toward difficult issues, Jimmy is feeling
When the trial ends, Dayton becomes a historical place and signs such as these begin to crop up. The town is forever changed. (This annotation contains an image)
Which line from the text shows that the trial is having a lasting impact on the town?
This image of the monkey continues to crop up throughout the story. Here is a political cartoon depicting the jurors as monkeys. Think about the significance of the monkey as a symbol of the debate. (This annotation contains an image)
Which line from the text shows that Darrow has faith in Willy's abilities?
A sermon is a talk on a religious or moral subject, especially one given during a church service and based on a passage from the Bible. Watch the first few minutes of this clip to get an idea of what a Christian sermon sounds like. (This annotation contains a video)
"Negro" was a common term used in the early half of the 20th-century when referring to African Americans. The author includes this terminology to
Watch this clip about the Salem Witch Trials then respond to the next question. (This annotation contains a video)
Based on your knowledge of the Salem Witch Trials, in four or five sentences, explain how the Scopes Trial compares and contrasts.