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to kill a mockingbird

Explain the meaning of the title, To Kill a Mockingbird. What two characters in the novel may be compared to the mockingbird? i have to find what the...


The title is named after Atticus's instructions to his children when they receive air rifles as Christmas gifts from their Uncle Jack. At the beginning of chapter 10, Atticus tells Jem and Scout,

"Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit ‘em, but remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird" (Lee, 93).

Miss Maudie then elaborates on Atticus's comment by explaining why it is considered a sin to kill a mockingbird. Maudie tells the children that mockingbirds don't cause problems and simply make the world a better place by singing pleasant songs.

Throughout the novel, mockingbirds symbolically represent innocent, defenseless beings. Two characters that are considered symbolic mockingbirds in the novel are Tom Robinson and Boo Radley. Both characters are compassionate, morally-upright individuals, who are vulnerable in various ways. Tom Robinson is a symbolic mockingbird, who goes out of his way to help Mayella Ewell but is defenseless against the community's prejudice. Boo Radley is also a mockingbird because he is gracious and caring towards Jem and Scout but cannot defend himself against his authoritative older brother or the community's negative rumors surrounding him.

One could consider Tom Robinson's verdict the first climax of the novel, where Tom is wrongly convicted of assaulting and raping Mayella Ewell. Tom's wrongful conviction illustrates the importance of protecting symbolic mockingbirds. The second climax of the novel is when Boo Radley defends Jem and Scout against Bob Ewell's vicious attack. During this scene, Jem and Scout can be viewed as vulnerable, symbolic mockingbirds and Boo demonstrates the importance of protecting them. Both climaxes illustrate and emphasize the importance of protecting innocent beings, which corresponds to Atticus's earlier lesson about why it is considered a sin to kill a mockingbird.

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