To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

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What are the most important symbols in Chapters 23, 24, 25, and 26 of To Kill a Mockingbird?

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The novel To Kill a Mockingbird is rich with symbols throughout. Recall that a symbol is a literary device that authors use an object, person, event, and/or setting to convey meaning beyond the literal meaning of such. While the "mockingbird" is a symbol that helps to develop a theme throughout the novel, there are additional symbols in chapters 23–26.

Chapter 23: One major symbol in chapter 23 is the jury. The jury members are the voice that represent the ideas and beliefs of Maycomb, Alabama. The jury is supposed to represent equality and justice; however, in the novel, they represent the inequality and injustice in the court system, in which Tom Robinson was found guilty even though the evidence said otherwise.

Chapter 24: A major symbol in this chapter is the women's missionary circle. The women in this circle represent the gender roles of women in the South at this time. These expectations pose a conflict for Scout as she is growing up and learning what it means to be a "lady."

Chapter 25: The message of protecting the innocent occurs again in this chapter. The symbol of the roly poly bug and the mention of the songbird represent the importance of not hurting those who are innocent.

Chapter 26: The oak tree is a symbol of communication between Boo and the outside world. Earlier in the novel, before it was cemented in, the oak tree served as a way for Boo to communicate with Jem and Scout. In this chapter, the oak tree serves as a symbol of care and compassion between Boo and the kids.

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SYMBOLS

CHAPTER 23. The jury serves as an most important symbol in the chapter. The jury is the voice of the community, the judges of innocence and guilt; but it also serves as a symbol of corruption, racism, and segregation.

CHAPTER 24. Sin is a symbol used to show both the positive and negative nature of the missionary circle. The women meet under the guise of helping the African Mruna tribe who live in "sin and squalor." But the women get sidetracked when they criticize the Negroes in Maycomb and those who defend them (Atticus).

CHAPTER 25.  Animals, in this case the roly-poly and the songbird, serve as symbols of innocence in the chapter. Jem tells Scout not to squash the roly-poly (a pill bug) because it is weak and harmless. B. B. Underwood's editorial compares Tom Robinson's death to the "senseless slaughter of songbirds."

CHAPTER 26. The Radley oak tree reappears in this chapter. Though Nathan Radley had told Jem that the tree was diseased and needed to be cemented, the tree continues to grow, "swelling" the cement around it. The tree symbolizes Boo, whose family has tried to change and restrain him, but inside the house, Boo continues to live and grow older, much like the tree. Boo will later show that these restrictions cannot completely restrain his movements.

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