A Greater Meaning: "To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee

Essay by shanzhuHigh School, 10th gradeB+, October 2007

download word file, 5 pages 5.0

Novelists use symbolism to share ideas without directly stating them. Symbolism is a writer's tool, useful for representing a greater meaning. It can be used to shift readers' views on many levels, which then allows the readers to relate the themes behind the symbols to their own lives. If an author uses symbolism effectively, the end result is a highly influential novel. Harper Lee's "To Kill a Mockingbird" utilizes many symbols to represent many things, but the three main symbols used include the mockingbird, the mad dog Tim Johnson, and Atticus Finch.

The mockingbird is a symbol introduced by Lee about one third of the way into the novel. It is clearly indicated that this is the most important symbol in "To Kill A Mockingbird" because of the title of the novel. The mockingbird is used to represent killing something innocent, thus a morally incorrect decision. "Mockingbirds don't do one thing but make music for to enjoy....That's

why it's a sin to kill a mockingbird" (Lee 98), is what Miss Maudie says to Scout after they encounter one another. Scout dismisses these words of wisdom without regard due to the fact that she is too young to understand what Miss Maudie is saying. However, at the end of the novel Bob Ewell attempts an attack on Jem and Scout. This, combined with Scout's newly achieved experience over the course of the novel, intrigues Scout to ask Atticus if convicting Arthur Radley for defending Jem and Scout by stabbing Bob Ewell would "be sort of like shootin' a mockingbird" (291). Scout means to say although Boo Radley killed Bob Ewell, he was doing the right thing, and that convicting him would not be the morally correct choice of action. The mockingbird also has a more divine meaning in this novel. This...