Symbolism in To Kill a Mockingbird
Uploaded by knoxville on May 07, 2004
A mockingbird is a harmless bird that makes the world more pleasant. In To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee, 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. Scout's father, 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 can hit'em, but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird."(p.69)
The mockingbird symbolizes these two characters because it does not have its own song. Whereas, 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 by other people's viewpoints.
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 on the fence so he could get 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 associates 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 parent's leg, pulled them out, wiped them on his pants, and resumed his activities." (p.11) After hearing stories like these, the children consider him to be evil.
Gradually they assume more about Boo because he never plays outside or with anyone, and therefore, the children are not convinced otherwise. Boo Radley becomes a game for the children and they act out Boo Radley scenarios that they believed to be true. These stories were based on the gossip that trails through their neighborhood. In reality, no one knew anything about Boo Radley. He stayed inside of his house and remained reclusive in Maycomb County. At...