How are Atticus Finch, Tom Robinson, and/or Boo Radley portrayed as mockingbirds? Give specific examples from To Kill a Mockingbird to support your answer.I need at least 5 examples. Anything would...

How are Atticus Finch, Tom Robinson, and/or Boo Radley portrayed as mockingbirds? Give specific examples from To Kill a Mockingbird to support your answer.

I need at least 5 examples. Anything would help. Thanks

Expert Answers
gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Mockingbirds symbolize innocent beings that do not harm anybody and bring joy to those around them. They are also defenseless creatures that rely on the generosity of others to protect them. The characters of Atticus Finch, Tom Robinson, and Boo Radley could be considered symbolic mockingbirds because they display similar characteristics and meet the criteria of innocent beings.

"No suh, not after she offered me a nickel the first time. I was glad to do it, Mr. Ewell didn’t seem to help her none, and neither did the chillun, and I knowed she didn’t have no nickels to spare" (Lee, 195). 

Tom Robinson displays his benevolent, kind nature, which is similar to that of a mockingbird. He generously offers his help to Mayella without receiving anything in return.

"I saw something only a lawyer’s child could be expected to see, could be expected to watch for, and it was like watching Atticus walk into the street, raise a rifle to his shoulder and pull the trigger, but watching all the time knowing that the gun was empty" (Lee, 214).

Similar to a mockingbird, Atticus is defenseless against the jury's prejudice during the trial. He can only stand and listen as the jury wrongly convicts Tom Robinson.

"They fired a few shots in the air, then to kill. They got him just as he went over the fence. They said if he’d had two good arms he’d have made it, he was moving that fast. Seventeen bullet holes in him" (Lee, 239).

Tom Robinson was defenseless, and he was tragically gunned down as he attempted to flee the prison yard.

"To my way of thinkin’, Mr. Finch, taking the one man who’s done you and this town a great service an‘ draggin’ him with his shy ways into the limelight—to me, that’s a sin" (Lee, 280).

After Boo Radley saves the children's lives, Sheriff Tate refuses to disclose the information to the public in order to prevent the citizens from bothering Boo. Similar to a defenseless mockingbird, Sheriff Tate decides to protect Boo from the limelight.

"Boo was our neighbor. He gave us two soap dolls, a broken watch and chain, a pair of good-luck pennies, and our lives" (Lee, 280).

Boo's benevolent, generous nature is depicted when Scout recounts the numerous gifts he has given her and Jem. Just like a mockingbird that spreads joy by singing songs, Boo's gifts make Scout and Jem happy.


bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As the previous post noted, mockingbirds are innocent creatures who don't harm humans or their crops, only making beautiful music for people to enjoy. The author has created several symbolic, human mockingbirds in her story.

Boo Radley is one. He is accused of all sorts of nocturnal crimes, but there are actually no witnesses (Miss Stephanie's unreliable gossip notwithstanding) to any of Boo's supposed activities. He leaves gifts in the secret knothole in order to make friends with Jem and Scout, giving them pleasure and wonderment from the personal items they receive. He mends Jem's pants following the children's raid on the Radley House, and he warms Scout with a blanket on the night of Miss Maudie's house fire. At the end of the story, he saves both of the children's lives by fighting off, and killing, the murderous Bob Ewell.

Tom Robinson is another innocent accused of crimes he did not commit. A hard-working family man, Tom goes out of his way to help Mayella Ewell with an occasional chore, knowing that his appearance on the Ewell property may be hazardous to him. She repays his kindness by accusing him of assault and rape. Atticus' staunch defense seemingly proves his innocence, but the jury doesn't see it that way. When Tom can stand being caged no longer, he is shot dead--with seventeen bullet holes--by overzealous prison guards.

Atticus is forced to accept the defense of Tom Robinson--a case that he does not want to take. The fallout of his defending a black man accused of raping a white woman puts his life, and his family's, in danger. Sheriff Tate insists that he take the shot that kills Tim Johnson, the mad dog, even though Atticus has given up guns because he hates the thought of killing.  

J6 | Student

In the novel, the mockinbird is referenced to as an innocent creature with no desire to harm anybody: " 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." Pg 99 and 10

Tom Robinson is a black person, and the mockingbird has grey to black plumage. In general, the mockingbird may represent the black community. For they have not done anything wrong, rather they have helped the Maycomb community. There is also the idea of harming somebody who is innocent.

Boo Radley is an innocent person as we discover at the end of the novel, similar to mockingbirds being innocent. Furthermore, Boo Radley, during the novel, Boo Radley isn't completely exposed to the reader yet. Boo provides Jem and Scout with presents but does not receive anything in return. Similar to mockingbirds, they do not receive anything in return either.

Atticus Finch is good and helps others, not expecting anything in return from them. This is quite similiar to mockingbirds.

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

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