In chapter 10 of To Kill a Mockingbird, Atticus tells his children that that "it is a sin to kill a Mockingbird." What reason does he give for saying this?
While Atticus does not give much explanation for his statement that "it is a sin to kill a mockingbird," Miss Maudie explains that the reason it is a sin to kill one is that they are innocent creatures that do no harm. This statement can also be applied to the book's figurative mockingbirds, Tom Robinson and Boo Radley.
Like many contemporaneous Southern parents, Atticus has given air-rifles to his children. But Atticus, being Atticus, wants Jem and Scout to use their guns responsibly. The last thing he wants is for them to start going round indiscriminately shooting innocent creatures such as mockingbirds.
Mockingbirds are completely harmless animals; they never cause anyone any bother. They just sit in the trees all day, sweetly singing their song. That's why it would be a sin to kill one of them, as Miss Maudie helpfully explains.
As the story develops we begin to realize that as well as the literal mockingbirds who live in the trees, Maycomb also has more than its fair share of figurative mockingbirds. There are many innocent souls who never do anyone any harm, but are nonetheless marginalized and despised by society for all kinds of different reasons.
The main case of the metaphorical mockingjay would be Tom Robinson, an African-American tried and convicted on a trumped-up charge of raping a white woman...
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A mockingbird does nothing but sing and they are innocent. This also represents the innocence in the town that was shifted because of the stereotypical nature. Boo Radley is one because in fact he is not at fault that he is recluse, but because of the stereotypical nature of society, they have warped their views and changed him into something he is not.