To Kill a Mockingbird Questions and Answers
by Harper Lee

To Kill a Mockingbird book cover
Start Your Free Trial

What is Harper Lee's purpose in writing about Tom Robinson and Boo Radley? How does this relate to the main idea of prejudice?

Expert Answers info

slcollins eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2012

write87 answers

starTop subject is Literature

Both Tom Robinson and Boo Radley are mockingbirds in the book. Neither of them have brought harm to anyone, yet they are being “killed” or persecuted by the narrow-minded people of Maycomb. Tom is accused of raping Mayella Ewell, but it is obvious to the readers and many in Maycomb that he is innocent. Yet the court system would never find him innocent. In this respect, he is a mockingbird because he has done no harm to Mayella or anyone else, yet the jury finds him guilty simply because he is a black man. Boo Radley is persecuted in much the same way. The rumors that abound about his this man are believed by many of the narrow-minded people in town. Many characters easily believe these rumors because Boo never comes out of his house to show what he is really like. When he saves Jem and Scout from Bob Ewell’s attack, it is obvious that the rumors are false and that the town has been wrongly persecuting him for many years. It is obvious that both of these characters are the victims of prejudices - Tom because he is black and Boo because he is an enigma. 

check Approved by eNotes Editorial