"When he gave us our air-rifles Atticus wouldnt reach us to shoot. Uncle Jack instructed us in the rudiments there of: he said Atticus wasnt interested in guns. Atticus said to Jem one day, Id rather you shot at tin cans in the back yard, but I know youll go after birds. Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit em, but remember its a sin to kill a mockingbird.
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That was the only time I heard Atticus say it was a sin to do something, and I asked Miss Maudie about it. 'Your father's right,' she said. 'Mockingbirds don't do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. They don't eat up people's gardens, don't nest in corncribs, they don't do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That's why it's a sin to kill a mockingbird.'"
To Kill a Mockingbird Pg. 103
Throughout Harper Lee's novel "To Kill a Mockingbird" symbolism is utilized repeatedly. For example, Atticus told Jem and Scout that whenever they felt the urge to hunt birds with their air-rifles, to "Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit 'em, but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird." Then, when Scout asked Miss Maudie about why it was a sin to kill a mockingbird, she responded by saying "Mockingbirds don't do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. They don't eat up peoples gardens, don't nest in corncribs, they don't do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That's why it's a sin to kill a mockingbird." This symbolism is important to the novel because it represents several different characters within the book. The Bluejays signify people such as Bob Ewell and others that are racist and are pests to society. Mockingbirds are representations of the innocent people in Maycomb such as Tom Robinson and Arthur Radley.
Therefore, when Miss Maudie says, "Mockingbirds don't do one thing but make music for us to enjoy" it's as if she's implying Tom Robinson and Arthur Radley don't do anything but mind their own business and don't do any harm to anyone. Arthur (Boo) Radley would never hurt a fly. Although the citizens of Maycomb make him an evil, frightening person in their stories, he still risked his own life to save Jem and Scout from Bob Ewell. Boo even sewed and folded Jem's pants for him after he had gotten them caught on the fence in Boo's yard. Tom Robinson cut the chiffarobe for Mayella out of kindness, not because he wanted to obtain something out of the situation. So in a sense, it would be a sin to harm either of these two characters.
Also, Mockingbirds imitate the songs of other birds and like mockingbirds Tom Robinson and Boo Radley don't have their own "song" in Maycomb. Thus, people only know these characters through the stories that other people in Maycomb tell about them.
"What happened after that had a dreamlike quality: in a dream I saw the jury return, moving like underwater swimmers, and Judge Taylor's came from far away, and was tiny. I saw something only a lawyer's child could be expected to see, could be expected to watch for, and it was like watching Atticus walk into the street, raise a rifle to his shoulder and pull the trigger, but all the time knowing that the gun was empty.
A jury never looks at a defendant it has convicted, and when this jury came in, not one of them looked at Tom Robinson. The Foreman handed a piece of paper to Mr. Tate who handed it to the clerk who handed it to the judge. . . .
I shut my eyes. Judge Taylor was polling the jury: 'Guilty. . . . guilty. . . . guilty. . . .' I peeked at Jem: his hands were white from gripping the balcony rail, and his shoulders jerked as if 'guilty' were a separate stab between them."
To Kill a Mockingbird Pg. 240
As displayed on previous accounts in "To Kill a Mockingbird" such as when Mr. Gilmer cross-examined Tom Robinson, calling him boy and snickering at him, racism is clearly alive and well in Maycomb. The jury's verdict only further explains the severity of racism in the town. The facts shown by Atticus proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Tom Robinson was innocent. The testimonies of the prosecutor's witnesses were inconsistent and contradictory, while the defendant, Tom Robinson's testimony never changed. It was undoubtedly clear; the jury should have proved Tom Robinson innocent. However, that is not what happened. The jury convicted him of rape against Mayella based solely on the fact that he was black.
The title of this novel, "To Kill a Mockingbird", is more than it seems. I feel that the title reflects the jury's verdict against Tom Robinson because he is innocent just like a mockingbird. By the jury proving him guilty, they essentially killed a "mockingbird", Tom Robinson. By the reaction of various people within the courtroom we know that people knew that the verdict wasn't just. Jem flinched at the sound of each "guilty", Judge Taylor muttered something to himself, and all of the blacks even stood up as Atticus exited the courtroom to honor his effort and sincerity to the case, even though they didn't obtain the desirable outcome.
"Bit by bit, I told him day's misfortunes. ' and she said you taught me all wrong, so we can't ever read anymore, ever. Please don't send me back, please sir.'
Atticus stood up and walked to the end of the porch. When he completed his examination of the wisteria vine he strolled back to me.
'First of all,' he said, 'if you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you'll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view '
' until you climb into his skin and walk around in it'"
To Kill a Mockingbird Pg. 332
This passage is essential in "To Kill a Mockingbird" because the advice Atticus provides for Scout will be something she lives by for the rest of the novel. The reason Atticus tells Scout this is because she has trouble understanding people and their intentions for the things that they do. This quote can be applied to various characters within the story. For example, Boo Radley is misunderstood by everyone in Maycomb, and if you look at the perspective through his eyes, then it would be frightening to leave the house because you are everyone's worst nightmare without even doing anything to them. I think this quote is most applicable to Mayella because her father is abusive towards her. If she didn't lie in the courtroom the she would have been beaten by her father.
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Miss Dubose is yet another person that is difficult for Scout to comprehend. Scout see's her as a bitter elderly woman that obtains pleasure from yelling at children, but this is false. Miss Dubose is fighting morphine addiction and doesn't know how to control her anger, so she takes it out on the children. As you can see, this quote gives Scout the knowledge necessary to understand the people that are most bizarre to her. Throughout the story Atticus gives Scout moral advice such as this, and we can see that she pays very close attention and values the information that he gives her. This passage is also crucial to the novel because it demonstrates the bond that Scout has with her father. After Atticus tells her this she gradually begins to put herself "in the other person's shoes" to discover who they really are rather than judging them at first glance.
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