What are examples of the mockingbird motif in To Kill a Mockingbird, and where does Atticus say it is "a sin to kill a mockingbird"?

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1. Following Atticus's comment about it being a sin to kill a mockingbird, there are several motifs regarding mockingbirds found throughout the novel. After Tom Robinson is wrongly convicted, he is sent to Enfield Prison Farm, where he attempts to escape. Unfortunately, Tom is shot dead during his escape, and Mr. B. B. Underwood compares his death to the "senseless slaughter of songbirds." Tom Robinson is a symbolic mockingbird because he is harmless and defenseless and only brings joy to the world.

2. In chapter 28, Jem and Scout walk to the Maycomb school to participate in the Halloween festivities. As they walk past Boo Radley's home, Scout mentions,

"High above us in the darkness a solitary mocker poured out his repertoire in blissful unawareness of whose tree he sat in, plunging from the shrill kee, kee of the sunflower bird to the irascible qua-ack of a bluejay, to the sad lament of Poor Will, Poor Will, Poor Will" (Lee, 258).

This specific mockingbird motif foreshadows Bob Ewell's attack on the innocent, vulnerable children as they are walking home.

3. The final mockingbird motif takes place at the end of chapter 30 when Scout metaphorically applies her father's lesson to Boo Radley. When Sheriff Tate says that it would be a sin to inform the community about Boo's heroics, Scout tells her father,

"Well, it’d be sort of like shootin‘ a mockingbird, wouldn’t it?" (Lee, 281).

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Miss Maudie also mentions the mockingbird when she explains Atticus's comment to Scout (in Chapter 10), about how "Mockingbirds don't do one thing but make music for us to enjoy."

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Atticus makes this statement only once, in Chapter 10 of the novel. It precedes his taking up a gun once again and killing the mad dog that threatens his neighborhood. The mockingbird motif can be found throughout the novel, beginning with Atticus's own name, Finch--a type of harmless songbird not unlike the mockingbird; but the word mockingbird only appears a few times. It can be found again in Chapter 10 when "the mockingbirds were silent" as the rabid dog stalked the street. It is mentioned just before the jury returns its verdict in the trial of Tom Robinson as Scout compares the scene to the day Atticus killed the dog:

... exactly the same as a cold February morning, when the mockingbirds were still...  (Chapter 21)

Scout compares Boo Radley to a mockingbird at the end of Chapter 30 when she agrees with Sheriff Tate's decision to call Bob Ewell's death self-inflicted, eliminating the need for Boo to face an inquest or trial. She tells Atticus

     "Well, it'd be sort of like shootin' a mockingbird, wouldn't it?"  (Chapter 30)

B. B. Underwood conjures up images of the mockingbird when he compares Tom's death "to the senseless slaughter of songbirds by hunters and children" in his editorial (Chapter 25).

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