What is the meaning of the title, To Kill a Mockingbird?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In To Kill a Mockingbird, there is no actual killing of mockingbirds. Instead, the title is a metaphor that relates to the idea of the destruction of innocence. The phrase that the book is named after is said by Atticus and explained by Mrs. Maudie in chapter 10:

“Remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.” That was the only time I ever heard Atticus say it was a sin to do something, and I asked Miss Maudie about it. “Your father’s right,” she said. “Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy . . . but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.”

Atticus tells Scout that killing a mockingbird with an air rifle is a sin—which Scout doesn’t immediately understand because Atticus isn’t the type of person to talk about sin. Scout and Jem are mostly brought up without a lot of religious influence in their lives, so Scout has to ask their neighbor what Atticus meant.

Mrs. Maudie sets the record straight by explaining that it is...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 747 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team