How is Boo represented as an innocent mockingbird in the novel To Kill a Mockingbird?

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gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Throughout the novel, mockingbirds represent innocent individuals who do nothing but help others. Boo Radley is considered a symbolic mockingbird for a variety of reasons. He is essentially a harmless person who shows compassion for the Finch children. He selflessly gives them gifts via the knothole in his tree and risks his life by defending them during Bob Ewell's vicious attack. Unfortunately, Boo is unable to protect himself from the negative rumors surrounding him. Similar to mockingbirds that cannot defend themselves from children shooting them, Boo is defenseless against the prejudiced community and his radically religious family. In Chapter 30, Sheriff Tate tells Atticus that it would be a sin to tell the community about Boo's heroics because it would bring unwanted attention to Boo, which would be harmful because he is so shy. When Atticus asks Scout if she understands, Scout says, "Well, it’d be sort of like shootin’ a mockingbird, wouldn’t it?" (Lee 170). Scout's comment metaphorically applies Atticus' lesson to Boo's situation, and reveals the connection between Boo's innocent nature and mockingbirds.

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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