To Kill a Mocking Bird: Critical Essay Author: Harper Lee

Essay by snipes February 2004

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References to the title in Harper Lee's novel To Kill a Mocking Bird suggest that both Tom Robinson and Boo Radley are "mockingbirds." The reader is led to understand that the term suggests an innocent harmless creature that should not be made to suffer. Both Boo Radley and Tom Robinson fit such characteristics. Just like a mockingbird doesn't do anything but sing, both Tom Robinson and Boo Radley just help people out, never doing anyone any harm. However, they are still punished by society in one way or another. Killing a mockingbird is considered a sin, so one can say that Maycomb sins by inflicting injustice upon Tom Robinson and Boo Radley.

Tom Robinson never means to harm anyone, or commit any kind of crime. In fact, he sometimes even helps people out. On page 191, Atticus asks him during the trial whether he was paid for helping Mayella Ewell; he answers, "No suh, ...

I was glad to do it, Mr. Ewell didn't seem to help her none..." Yet, when Mayella tries to seduce him and is caught in the act, she brings everything down on Tom Robinson to hide her guilt. Because of Maycomb's mostly racist society, Tom Robinson looses his trial because he is black. In a sense, a connection can be drawn between Tom and a mocking bird. A mocking bird never causes anyone harm, just sings for all to hear, just like Tom Robinson never tries to hurt anyone and sometimes even helps people out. Mayella, along with the rest of Maycomb's society commits a sin by killing someone who never doesn't do anything wrong.

Boo Radley also has the unfortunate luck of being a mockingbird that is the victim of prejudice. Boo never helped, anyone as openly as Tom Robinson did, but just...