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What does the Mockingbird symbolize?

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xxdillanxx | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 6, 2010 at 11:42 PM via web

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What does the Mockingbird symbolize?

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missy575 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted April 6, 2010 at 11:57 PM (Answer #1)

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The mockingbird is a symbol of innocence. There are several innocent characters represented by the mockingbird in the book: Tom Robinson, Boo Radley, children and even Mayella Ewell in some ways.

The mockingbird is referred to by Atticus as he gives a lesson about what animals can be shot, Miss Maudie as the kids ask about it, and Mr. Underwood when he writes an article in the paper. It is finally used in the last few pages of the book after Bob Ewell's death in reference to Boo Radley's saving of the children.

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bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted April 7, 2010 at 12:38 AM (Answer #2)

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In addition to innocence, the mockingird also symbolizes goodness and beauty. When Miss Maudie first explains to Scout the meaning of Atticus' statement--that "it's a sin to kill a mockingbird"--she agrees with Atticus' assessment.

"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 mockingbird."

Jem and Scout particularly symbolize innocence, goodness and beauty. Although they are a bit more rambunctious than some children and exposed to the world around them by Atticus' allowance for their independence, they nevertheless serve as the primary human mockingbirds of the story: Their childlike questions and responses to the good and bad around them and their innate willingness to foster goodness in their actions make them positive symbols for the future of Maycomb.

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teacher2011 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Adjunct Educator

Posted April 7, 2010 at 5:19 AM (Answer #3)

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My simple answer is something or someone who is innocent and does no harm, but only good to others. Tom Robinson does good by helping Mayella without expecting a reward. Atticus helps Tom by representing him even though it will bring him little reward. Boo helps the children though he fears the public eye. All of these characters who have done well for others, without reward, face the potential for cruelty for their actions. Killing the mockingbird represents causing harm to those who attempt to do only good. Think about other characters that do good for others in the novel and suffer despite their good intentions. There are more.

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wrightkd | Student, Grade 11 | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted April 7, 2010 at 12:20 AM (Answer #4)

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The mockingbird symbolizes innocence.

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