What is the symbolism of the dog in To Kill a Mockingbird?
The rabid dog in To Kill a Mockingbird symbolizes the madness that threatens Atticus and the Finch family. This larger madness is the prejudice and racism infecting the town, which Atticus refers to as Maycomb's "usual disease." The symbolism of the dog is extended further when Atticus is forced to shoot the dog to protect his loved ones, even though he is reluctant to do so. This reflects the idea in the novel that some actions that may be difficult are also moral imperatives, such as Atticus's decision to defend Tom Robinson.