Who are the mockingbirds in Harper Lee's 'To Kill a Mockingbird'? An analysis of the title.

Essay by cjqsgMiddle School, 6th gradeB, March 2003

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Unlike most books, the title of Harper Lee's novel, "To Kill a Mockingbird", has very little literal connection to the main plot itself, but carries a great symbolic weight in the book. We first start to realize the figurative meaning of the 'mockingbird' in chapter 10 when Atticus told Jem to "shoot all the blue jays you want, if you can hit 'em, but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird" and also said that "Mockingbirds don't do one thing but make music for us to enjoy...That's why it is a sin to kill a mockingbird." From these two statements, we can infer that mockingbirds symbolizes innocence and harmlessness, both of these traits can be seen in Tom Robinson and Boo Radley in the novel.

Tom Robinson, as we know from the novel, is a kind person who is often willing to help others in need. In fact, he was "probably the only person who was ever decent to her."

During his testimony, he also revealed how he has helped Mayella Ewell out with her chores countless times, not because she is a white but because of his innate helpful nature, despite his injured left arm. He resisted kissing Mayella because of the simple fact that she was a white girl and it was socially unacceptable for a Black man to kiss a White girl. Also, the fact that he did not push Mayella away as he advanced provocatively towards him but instead decided to run away in the middle of the situation, proving the point that he was a compassionate 'mockingbird' who never intended to harm any one, be it White or Black. Unfortunately, he never stood to win the case despite overwhelming evidence because of the all-white jury and the majority of the Maycomb population...