What is the moral of the story To Kill a Mockingbird?

One moral in the story To Kill a Mockingbird is the importance of fighting the hard battles of life with your head, not your fists. Another moral is that appearances can often be deceiving.

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Because this story is so rich in character development and conflicts, it is hard to point to just one moral that the story supports. The following are all morals that are depicted in To Kill a Mockingbird:

It is imperative to treat people kindly and with respect.Atticus is...

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Because this story is so rich in character development and conflicts, it is hard to point to just one moral that the story supports. The following are all morals that are depicted in To Kill a Mockingbird:

It is imperative to treat people kindly and with respect.
Atticus is a powerful example of this moral, as he is determined to treat everyone he meets with respect (and teach his children to follow in his example).

  • When he is called to represent Tom Robinson at his trial, Atticus doesn't shrink from the duty, even though he knows he will face the scorn of his town.
  • When Walter Cunningham cannot pay for his legal services and presents payment in the form of hickory nuts or turnip greens, Atticus accepts the payment graciously.
  • When Bob Ewell threatens him, Atticus explains to his children that the man has been publicly embarrassed and has to take it out on someone; Atticus prefers that Bob take it out on him rather than Mayella.

Because of Atticus's efforts, the prejudices of some individuals in Maycomb begin to shift by the novel's end, even if the shift is ever so slight.

Fight the hard battles of life with your head.
As she grows up, Scout learns about the importance of using her intellect and her words, not her fists, to solve problems. As Atticus tells Scout,

You just hold your head high and keep those fists down. No matter what anybody says to you, don't you let 'em get your goat. Try fightin' with your head for a change.

Several characters model this behavior in the novel:

  • When the Old Sarum gang comes to the jail, Atticus refuses to engage in physical conflict with them.
  • When Scout beats up Walter Cunningham Jr. at school out of her own personal frustrations, Jem invites the young boy home for lunch.
  • When Bob Ewell confronts Atticus on the street, Atticus walks away. Rather than engaging in physical conflict, Atticus seeks to change resolve conflicts by changing minds.

Protect the innocent.
This moral informs the novel's title, which comes from Atticus and Miss Maudie's assertion that it's a sin to kill a mockingbird—in other words, it's wrong to harm the innocent. Several characters function as metaphorical "mockingbirds" in the novel.

  • Atticus makes a valiant effort to protect Tom Robinson through the trial. He also tries to protect Boo Radley from his own children's intrusive games, urging them to let the man live in peace.
  • Boo himself saves the children from Bob Ewell in the end, an example of the innocent protecting the innocent.

Appearances can be deceiving.
Through numerous characters, Scout learns that people are almost always more complex than their superficial qualities:

  • Dolphus Raymond pretends to be a town drunk because he finds it easier than publicly admitting that he prefers to live with a Black woman.
  • Mrs. Dubose is filled with so much bitterness because she is trying to break a morphine addiction before she dies.
  • Boo Radley isn't a reclusive murderer hiding away in his house but a shy man who comes to rescue the children in their darkest hour.
  • Aunt Alexandra drives Scout crazy with her insistence upon ladylike manners, yet she proves herself fiercely loyal.
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