What do you think the main issues/themes are in To Kill a Mockingbird?

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sagetrieb eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A very important theme reveals itself in the symbol in the book’s title:  “mockingbird.”  The Boo Radley and Tom Robinson plots are integrally connected, brought together in that symbol. Like the mockingbird, both characters are vulnerable and harmless, at the mercy of an often unreasonable and cruel society that cannot tolerate difference, whether in color or anything else.  Atticus and Miss Maudie explain that to kill a mockingbird is a sin because it is a harmless creature that gives others its song.  To suggest that a black man “is a harmless creature” is rather condescending approach to the racism the book dramatizes, but we must understand that tone as indicative of when the book was written, 1960.

Jamie Wheeler eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The main theme is dealing with a world filled with prejudice and doing one's best to overcome it.  Atticus Finch raises his children, Jem and Scout, in Maycomb, Georgia, in the 1930s.  When a white woman accuses a black man (Tom Robinson) of rape, the town immediately believes that he has committed the crime.  The only evidence they need is the accusation by a white woman. 

Other themes that are closely related to overcoming prejudice include courage vs. cowardice and knowledge vs. ignorance.  You can learn more about the themes of Lee's novel by visiting the link below. 

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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