In To Kill a Mockingbird, Author Harper Lee uses symbolic elements to portray the major theme of innocence in her novel. Killing a mockingbird is the only thing Atticus told his children was a sin: "I'd rather you shot at tin cans in the back yard, but I know you'll go after birds. Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit ?em, but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird." (98). Unsure of why this was immoral, Scout and Jem ask their neighbor Miss Maudie and she explains it to them: "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 mocking bird." (98). Furthermore, Lee?s symbolism of the ?sin to kill a mockingbird? represents many characters and events that take place in the novel.
In particular, she represents the mockingbird through the characters Tom Robinson, Jem and Scout Finch, and Boo Radley.
The mockingbird clearly represents Tom Robinson. He is an innocent black man who is cheated by the prejudice and iniquitous people of Maycomb. In an attempt to help Mayella with a chore, Tom is instead lead into her tricks. She forced herself on him and is caught by her father. Her father, embarrassed by his daughter?s behavior, abuses her, and accuses Tom of rape. Mainly because he was black, Tom is found guilty by an all-white jury and is killed when he tries to escape from prison. Scout and Jem Finch also represent the mockingbird. When they are walking home from the school pageant, the young children are threatened by Bob Ewell. Running to escape from danger, the children are eventually caught by their pursuer. They are also innocent, kind people who are threatened by the evils of society. Lastly, the mockingbird can symbolize Boo Radley. As are Tom, Scout, and Jem, Boo is also a harmless human being. He is an intelligent and generous person who is seen as dangerous. The rumors of his crimes prove to be false in the end. This caring man?s shyness and possible fear of the outside was caused by the town?s persecution of him.
Harper Lee?s main theme is the destroying of the innocent. She allegorically uses the ?sin to kill a mockingbird? to represent this theme through her characters. It is unfair to kill a mockingbird because it is harmless and only sings. This idea is portrayed onto Tom Robinson?s, Scout and Jem?s, and Boo Radley?s innocence.