How does the novel's title, To Kill a Mockingbird, relate to the themes in the book? The themes: don't judge people by appearance, have moral standards and stick to them no matter what, love thy...

How does the novel's title, To Kill a Mockingbird, relate to the themes in the book?

The themes: don't judge people by appearance, have moral standards and stick to them no matter what, love thy neighbour as thyself, understanding is the key to happiness, it's a sin to kill a mockingbird

Expert Answers
sagetrieb eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A few additional comments on the title and meaning:  Lee uses the mockingbird as a symbol of innocence, joy, and freedom, borrowing from other American writers, such as Walt Whitman in “Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking,” who use the bird in this way. Although it is a sin to kill a mockingbird, Atticus says it’s permissible to shoot blue jays, thus making blue jays the opposite of mockingbirds.  Loud, territorial, and very aggressive, blue jays can be understood as the bullies of the bird world.  The finch, the family name of Atticus, means a songbird like the mockingbird, and he pits himself against the evil in the town.

As bullies, however, blue jays embody the meanness of racism and people such as Bob Ewell (his last name sounds similar to “evil”) . While Atticus is  uncomfortable with covering the fact that Boo killed Ewell in defending his children against Ewell’s attack, he is  willing to overlook the details of the law to protect the mockingbird that is Boo and dismiss the dead blue jay that is Ewell.  Atticus also “attacks” blue jays when he shoots the mad dog.  The dog represents prejudice, and how, like a rabid dog, it spread its disease throughout the South.  In shooting the dog Atticus kills a blue jay, and in so doing also kills racism and prejudice, trying to prevent it from spreading any further.

allyson eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The novel's title is from chapter 10: Atticus tells the kids that it is a sin to kill a mockingbird because they don't harm anyone. This statement begins the idea of “mockingbirds” as goodness and innocence destroyed by evil. One can compare the mockingbird to Boo Radley, who also harms no one, yet is ruined by others, most specifically his father.

The connection between songbirds and goodness continues throughout the book. In Chapter 25, Mr. Underwood compares Tom's death to “the senseless slaughter of songbirds by hunters and children”; in Chapter 30, Scout realizes the connection and tells Atticus that hurting Boo Radley would be “sort of like shootin’ a mockingbird.”

bmadnick eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Chapter 10, the theme of it's a sin to kill a mockingbird begins to emerge. The children have received air rifles, and Atticus is cautioning them to never kill a mockingbird. When Scout asks Miss Maudie about it, Miss Maudie explains to her why it is a sin. The mockingbird provides us with a beautiful song and does no harm to anyone, so it would be a sin to kill it. This scene sets the stage for Boo Radley and Tom Robinson to emerge as the "mockingbirds" in the novel. How people treat Boo and what happens to Tom is a sin in the eyes of Atticus. They are both innocent human beings who never hurt anyone.

ils7 | Student

sorry i had to delete it because im using it as my essay on my english final and i dont want to be accused of plagerism on my own paper =P

redchic | Student

the 'mockingbirds' are the innocent people of the book.Scout,Jem,Tom,Boo Radley who are all thrown into a mess created by the evils of society-the extreme prejudice against the blacks,and bob ewell ofcourse represents evil as he even tries to murder jem and scout in the end.Boo Radley and Tom robinson are the two greatest examples of the mockingbird.they are both innocent but lead trapped lives,confined by the social injustice created by people.It is a sin to kill the innocent people,hence its a sin to kill a mockingbird.This is why in the end heck tate and atticus decide to hide the fact that boo radley killed bob ewell.because just like people believed bob ewell over tom,they would belive him over boo radley.but enough injustice had bin done and another mockingbird was not to be killed.

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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