In "To Kill a Mockingbird" how do Jem and Scout walking home from the pagaent make them represent a mockingbird?I'm having trouble identifying who are the mockingbirds and why.

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mrs-campbell eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is an interesting angle on the mockingbird symbolism in the book.  Classically, it is Tom Robinson who is compared to the mockingbird, because, as Atticus says earlier in the book, "It's a sin to kill a mockingbird" because it is a helpless, innocent bird that is just living its life and singing its song.  To kill it is to kill it for pride and it is completely senseless.  Tom represents that definition exactly-he is an innocent man who is just living his life, and he is unfairly and senselessly condemned for a crime that he did not commit, because of the pride and fear of a community, and their racism.  Boo is also often compared to a mockingbird because he is cruelly imprisoned by his father and brother, and subjected to mockery by the town and children, when he is really just an innocent man.

So, to compare Jem and Scout to a mockingbird as they walk home, is an interesting thought.  They are innocent, beautiful children just going about their business when Bob Ewell takes it into his head to harm them, because his pride has been wounded.  For the sake of pride and a wounded ego, Bob decides he's going to take Jem and Scout out, just like a hunter decides to take a beautiful songbird out.  Jem and Scout are the innocent songbird, Bob Ewell is the prideful hunter, in this situation.  Does that make sense?  I hope so!  Good luck!

gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In chapter 10, Jem and Scout are shooting their air rifles, and Atticus tells them that it is a sin to kill a mockingbird. Miss Maudie elaborates on Atticus's comment by telling the children that mockingbirds are gentle, defenseless beings, who only make beautiful music, which is why it is considered a sin to kill them. Metaphorically, Atticus's lesson applies to protecting innocent, vulnerable beings. Throughout the novel, mockingbirds symbolize innocent, defenseless beings. Boo Radley and Tom Robinson are both considered symbolic mockingbirds because they are innocent, vulnerable individuals, who cause no harm to anyone.

Similarly, Jem and Scout could be considered symbolic mockingbirds because they share many similar traits with Boo and Tom. On their walk back from the Maycomb Halloween festival, Jem and Scout are defenseless and vulnerable against Bob Ewell's attack. They are both innocent children, who have not harmed anyone and did not expect Bob to attack them. Similarly to how Atticus attempts to protect Tom and Sheriff Tate protects Boo at the end of the novel, Boo Radley protects Jem and Scout by defending them against Bob Ewell's vicious attack.

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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