In Chapter 10, Atticus tells Scout and Jem that “it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.” Find three examples of that advice being echoed with similar imagery in this chapter. How do these examples...

In Chapter 10, Atticus tells Scout and Jem that “it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.” Find three examples of that advice being echoed with similar imagery in this chapter. How do these examples help you better understand the meaning of Atticus’s advice and the message that Harper Lee intends readers to take away from the story?

Expert Answers
hannahhunt09 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Atticus says that it is a sin to kill a mockingbird because the mockingbird symbolizes innocence. Mockingbirds do not do anything to hurt others, they just sing and make beautiful music.

One example in this chapter which highlights Atticus's wisdom is the rabid dog. The dog, like the mockingbird, is innocent. However, his right to live has been forfeited because he is no longer harmless, so Atticus is forced to shoot him in order to protect people.

A second example is Tom Robinson, the main "mockingbird" of this book. He is innocent, kind, and does not want to hurt others, but he continues to be hurt and persecuted throughout the novel.

Finally, Scout and Jem, as children, are mockingbirds to their father. He wants to protect their innocence. In this chapter specifically, he protects them from a mad dog, and in the course of this situation they find out he was also protecting them from knowing certain things about his past. For instance, he has kept the secret of how well he can shoot and how that skill came to be.