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To Kill a Mockingbird Symbolism Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 1916 words Published: 20th Jul 2021

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To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, symbolism is used to show the innocence of the children and the innocence of some people. There are a few main children in this story. The main characters are, Jean Louise “Scout” Finch, Jeremy Atticus, “Jem” Finch, Charles Baker “Dill” Harris, Boo Radley and Tom Robinson. Boo symbolizes innocence even though he isn’t a child anymore. The mockingbird also symbolizes innocence.

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The mockingbird shows symbolism because the mockingbird is innocent and all they do is sing beautiful songs. Killing a mockingbird is a sin. A mockingbird in To Kill a Mockingbird isn’t an actual bird, it represents innocent, nice, only could do good, easy target to people in the Book. Like Tom Robinson or Boo Radley. The mockingbird symbolizes underprivileged black people. They are innocent and never would harm anyone just like the mockingbird. Boo Radley is also innocent and would never harm anyone therefore the mockingbird also symbolizes him. Boo Radley never comes out because he does not want to face the prejudice and corrupt world. A mockingbird is a harmless bird that makes the world more pleasant. The mockingbird symbolizes Boo Radley and Tom Robinson who were both peaceful people who never did any harm. To kill or harm them would be a sin. Atticus tells Scout and Jem:

“i’d rather you shoot at tin cans in the backyard but I know you’ll go after birds. Shoot all the blue jays you want if you hit ’em but remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird”

The mockingbird symbolizes these two characters because it does not have it own song. The blue jay is loud and obnoxious the mockingbird only sings other birds’ songs. Therefore the mockingbird is seen through the other birds. The people of Maycomb only knew Boo Radley and Tom Robinson by what others said about them. both of these characters do not really have their own “song” in a sense and therefore are characterized bu other people view points. When Atticus tells Jem and Scout that it is a sin to kill the mockingbird, this refers to the actions directed toward Tom and Boo. It was a sin to dislike Tom and Boo bases on what others say about them. they were punished by the people in Maycomb because they did not have their own voice. There are many people without their own voice in society. As it is a sin to kill these without a voice. The symbolism reveals the prejudice and narrow mindedness of the citizens of Maycomb county their fears and the immoral things they do. The mockingbird has a very deep and peaceful meaning in the novel. It represents peacefulness, innocence and kindness. Characters such as Boo Radley can be compared to the mockingbird. Tom Robinson can also be compared to the mockingbird. In conclusion, the mockingbird represents peace, innocence and kindness.

Boo Radley went through his life never wanting to hurt a fly. He left gum, pennies, and wax dolls for Scout and Jem. He sewed Jem’s pants and left them easily. He also saved Scout’s and Jem’s lives while risking his own. Boo was a fragile and gentle person. Throughout the novel, Scout, Jem, and Dill are curious about the “mysterious” Boo Radley because he never comes outside from his house or associated with anyone in the neighborhood. The children are afraid of him because of all the stories they hear about him from the people in maycomb. For example, Miss Stephanie tells the children that while Boo was sitting in the living room cutting a magazine

“he drove the scissors into his parents leg, pulled them out, wiped the on his pants, and resumed his activities”

After hearing stories like these the children consider him to be evil. The kids assume more about Boo because he never plays outside or with anyone and therefore the children are not convinced otherwise. Boo becomes a game and they act out Boo Radley scenarios that they believed to be true. These stories were based on gossip that goes through their neighborhood. Boo Radley can be compared to the mockingbird in the title of the novel. It is made clear in ch.10 when Atticus and Miss Maudie explain that you should never kill a mockingbird because all it does is sing beautiful songs and never hurts anyone and keeps to himself. Yet the title is “To Kill a Mockingbird” and the townsfolk “kill” Boo Radley because he is shy and does not come out of his house. He was a kind person, yet he was persecuted by society for being shy and not coming out of his house. The grey ghost is another symbol for Boo Radley whose “face was as white as his hands and his grey eyes were so colorless” a description fitting to one of a ghost. At the end of the Book, Scout finally meets Boo Radley after he helps her and Jem escape Mr. Ewell. She finds that her beliefs about him are not true. She finds the songs that the neighbors were “putting into his mouth” were not true. In the end, Scout says that it would be wrong to put Boo Radley on trial for killing Bob Ewell because he did it in order to protect her and Jem. Scout sees that things look the same from Boo Radley’s porch as they do from her’s. therefore Boo Radley is a perfect example of a mockingbird and the situation he is in is a pefect example of the title of the Book.

Chopping wood and doing whatever he could for Mayella Ewell was Tom Robinson’s only crime. Just like Boo Radley Tom never harmed a soul. He risked his own safety by helping Mayella and he did it because someone needed him. It was like a mockingbird being shot down when Robinson was accused of raping Mayella. To the people of Maycomb county, Tom is just a “sorry negro”, who committed an unthinkable crime. Tom represents the black race in American society at that time and was a victim of racism. Like Boo Redleye, Tom Robinson is characterized by what the people see him as an evil beast. During the trial while bob Ewell testifies, he points to Tom Robinson and says

“I seen that black begro yonder rutting on my Mayella”

according to Mr. Ewell, Tom Robinson is an animal who tormented and violated his daughter. Throughout the trial, Tom is portrayed in his manner because of the racist neutrality of the people in Maycomb. Even though there is a sufficient amount of proof which shows he did not commit the crime, Tom is a black man who will be denied justice, Atticus reinforces this idea when he tells Jem

“in our courts, when it’s a white man’s word against a black man’s. the white man always wins”

Generally this was the mentality of most Americans at the time. Black people did not have their own song, other people sang their song their songs based on beliefs about them. like Boo Radley people only knew Tom Robinson through what others said about him. Boo is the outcast of the neighborhood, but at the time, Tom Robinson was the outcast of the society. Throughout the trial, Scout and Jem believe in Tom Robinsons innocence. They see him for who they believe he is, and do not know enough about racism to be part of it. they did not believe the trial was fair because they believed there was evidence in Tom Robinson’s favor.

Tom Robinson is another character who can be compared with the mockingbird. He was a genuinely kind person who in the end is destroyed by his willingness to help mayella ewell. Just like a mockingbird, Robinson never hurt anyone. Yet, he was also persecuted by society for his kindness and his race. Tom Robinson is a mockingbird figure in the Book. In the end, mr underwood also compares a harmless songbird that was shot down by a senseless hunter. At the end of the Book, hoever Scout realizes the same about Boo Radley. When she finally meets him, she sees how unfair she had been with him. Boo contradicts everything that the chidren believed about him. The fact that no one realized the unfair treatment of Tom Robinson made his death that much more tragic. Tom Robinson was killed because of his kindness and the color of his skin.

Another person who shows symbolism Is Atticus Finch. Atticus Finch shows symbolism because he is seen as a hero when he kills the rabid dog. Jem and Scout did not know their father was such a godo shoorter and they were very surprised to see him shooting.

” with movements so swift they seemed simultaneous. Atticus’s hand yanked a bolt tipped lever as he brought the gun to his shoulder. The rifle cracked. Tim Johnson leaped, flopped over and crumbled on the sidewalk In a brown and white heap. He did know to hit him”

Atticus is a father in that he shows love to his children. Atticus always tells his children

“shooting a mockingbird is a sin because they don’t do any harm. They are innocent creatures that make music.”

Atticus is a lawyer, he is a faithful servent of justice for all people, black or white. His wisdom lies not in his education but in the way he raises his children and his knowledge of peoples attitude. Atticus showed his courage when he accepted the Tom Robinson case even though he knew before hand that it was a lost battle. He advises Scout and Jem not to get carried away by peoples provocation and sets the example when he does not react to bob ewells threats. Atticus is the only one who refers to people’s prejudice as ‘disease’. He accepts the Robinson case in an effort to fight against that, even though he is sure to fail. Atticus is the only lawyer in maycomb that would represent a blackman. Atticus is seen as a hero for he kills racism and prejudice, not allowing it to spread any further. In a conversation with his brother. Jack bout the coming trial and how to

“get Jem and Scout through it without bitterness and most of all, without catching maycomb’s usual disease”

Atticus is a hero model to the community. Attius Finch, as well as his two children, who follow in his footsteps.

A place that shows symbolism would be the tree outside the Radley hosue. Another place and object that shows symbolism is the snowman, the fire in miss maudie atkinson’s house, are examples of symbolism. The snowman that Jem and Scout made infront of miss maudie atkinson’s hosue one winter was an example of symbolism. There was not enough snow for the snowman so Jem used dirt for the foundation and then covered It with the snow that they did have. The snowman is symbolic in that Jem is trying to cover up the black man and showing that he is the same as the white man. The fire in miss maudie Atkinson’s house shows symbolism in that it shows the prejudice of maycomb. The fire melted the snow from the snowman and left nothing but mud. The fire shows that blacks and whites are nothing alike. The fire and the snowman are not the only symbols of prejudice. Tim Johnson is another symbol of prejudice. Tim Johnson represents prejudice, and how, like a rabid dog, it spreads its disease throughout the town.

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The symbolism reveals the prejudice of the citizens of maycomb, the fears they have, and all of the dishonest things they do. It also reveals an attempt to get rid of these feeling in maycob by a hero to the community, Atticus Finch and his children who will follow in his footsteps. Symbolism is basically what the Book is about. If this book did not have any type of symbolism it wouldn’t be complete.


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