Describe instances of symbolism in chapter 12 of To Kill a Mockingbird.

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Chapter 12 is rich with symbolism that represents the conflict of man vs society. First, Atticus is portrayed in a political cartoon wearing short pants, without shoes, and chained to a desk as young girls call out to him. These images suggest that he is a slave to his work--a...

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Chapter 12 is rich with symbolism that represents the conflict of man vs society. First, Atticus is portrayed in a political cartoon wearing short pants, without shoes, and chained to a desk as young girls call out to him. These images suggest that he is a slave to his work--a slave who is also defending a descendent of slaves--and he is wasting his time preparing for the trial rather than enjoying life. Then, when the children visit Calpurnia's church, the minor confrontation with Lula represents the quiet resistance to whites which is never publicly shown by the black community. The way Lula seems seven feet high, with her "left elbow in the curve of her hip, pointing at us with upturned palm," personifies and symbolizes an attitude of shock, confusion and disgust that is usually reserved for casual talk at home, and not in public. Between the political cartoon and Lula, the symbolism points out trouble in Maycomb county: trouble flowing out of the hearts, minds, homes and churches and into the courtroom where a man's life lays at the feet of a long-standing, multi-generational conflict between white and black in the South.

There are also hopeful symbols, such as the song that Zeebo guides the congregation through during singing time. The song references a "sweet forever" beyond a "shining river" (121). The sweet forever symbolizes heaven and the shining river is the pathway to it. In Christianity, water can also represent Christ who offers living water (spiritual strength). Then, Scout even says that the cemetery next to the church is happy, as follows:

"A few graves in the cemetery were marked with crumbling tombstones; newer ones were outlined with brightly colored glass and broken Coca-Cola bottles. Lightning rods guarding some graves denoted dead who rested uneasily; stumps of burned-out candles stood at the heads of infant graves. It was a happy cemetery" (118).

It is ironic that with the images in the above passage symbolizing death, poverty, and unrest that Scout would say it was a happy cemetery. On the other hand, there's so much going on in chapter 12 that one could pick out three corresponding images and apply their symbolism to the ongoing conflict of prejudice, discrimination and racism found throughout Maycomb county. However, the political cartoon and the church scene have the most images from which to draw many symbols for analytical conclusions.

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