"Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit 'em, but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird." Why?in To Kill a Mockingbird

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This quotation that serves as the basis for the title of  the novel first appears in Chapter 10 of To Kill a Mockingbird. Scout questions Miss Maudie about it, remembering that Atticus had once told Jem (after receiving air rifles as Christmas presents) that

"I'd rather you shot at tin cans in the back yard, but I know you'll go after birds."

Scout tells Maudie that it was "the only time I ever heard Atticus say it was a sin to do something..." Maudie explains that Atticus is right. Mockingbirds are harmless, innocent creatures that have no negative characteristics. Unlike blue jays and other birds, mockingbirds only make music for people 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."

According to Atticus and Maudie, mockingbirds are one of God's fragile creatures that bring only happiness to humans and should be protected, rather than persecuted. This symbolism eventually transcends into the human mockingbirds of the story, such as Tom and Boo.

willdabeast | Student

The mockingbird symbolizes innocence, and later connects with human mockingbirds in the story, such as Tom and Boo

vikarnan | Student

It is a sin To Kill A Mockingbird ( it is used as the title of the book) is a sin because Mockingbirds do not do anything to bother us. They just open up their hearts and sing to us. If you kill something that is harmless there is no point to it. That is why it is a sin to kill a mockingbird.

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

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