From To Kill a Mockingbird, what are some passages containing literary elements and themes?

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tinicraw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are a couple of passages that contain literary elements as well as major themes from Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird. They are based off of what something Atticus says because he is the major role model in which wisdom resides. Since the story is written from Scout's point of view, too, she tends to get much of her guidance and advice from her father. One of the first pieces of advice she receives is after her first day of school. Things didn't go well with her teacher or among her classmates. Atticus tells his daughter the following:

"First of all. . . if you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you'll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view--until you climb into his skin and walk around in it" (30).

Atticus uses the visual image and metaphor of climbing into someone else's skin, then walking around in it, to make a point that also becomes a guiding theme in the novel. That theme could be phrased as follows: Never jump to any conclusions about a person until you have considered "things from his point of view." Atticus works with Scout throughout the story to help her overcome her hotheadedness and she refers back to this advice often to remind her of how to handle difficult situations.

The next theme has to do with the title of the book. When the children receive air rifles for Christmas in chapter nine, Atticus refuses to teach them how to shoot. Apparently, he doesn't believe in guns; but by chapter ten, Atticus makes sure to lay down one major rule, as follows:

"I'd rather you shot at tin cans in the back yard, but I know you'll go after birds. Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit 'em, but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird" (90).

Atticus means what he says literally, but there is also an analogy being used here because Boo Radley and Tom Robinson are symbols of mockingbirds. Mockingbirds are innocent and harmless just like these two men are in their respective places in Maycomb society. Yet, people treat them with disrespect and prejudice. The theme is not to hurt the innocent and the harmless--especially when you have more opportunity and advantages over them.

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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