What page in To Kill A Mockingbird is the quote, "I'd rather you shot at tin cans in the back yard, but I know you'll go after birds. Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit 'em, but...

What page in To Kill A Mockingbird is the quote, "I'd rather you shot at tin cans in the back yard, but I know you'll go after birds. Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit 'em, but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird"? 

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gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Chapter 10, on page 119 of the Grand Central Publishing Edition of To Kill a Mockingbird Atticus says,

"I'd rather you shot at tin cans in the back yard, but I know you'll go after birds. Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit 'em, but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird (Lee 119).

Miss Maudie elaborates on why it is a sin to kill a mockingbird by telling Jem and Scout that mockingbirds do nothing except make beautiful music for people to hear. Harper Lee uses mockingbirds to symbolize any innocent beings throughout the novel. When Atticus tells his children that it is a sin to kill a mockingbird, he is essentially teaching them a lesson on how to treat innocent people. There are several characters throughout the novel which can be considered symbolic mockingbirds. Tom Robinson and Boo Radley are mockingbirds because they are helpful, innocent individuals who do not harm anyone. Atticus defends Tom Robinson against the prejudiced community of Maycomb, which correlates with his belief that innocent beings should be respected and treated with compassion. His actions are congruent with the adage that it is a sin to kill a mockingbird.

sullymonster eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the Warner Books edition of the book, the quote you mention is on page 94.  The metaphor that is used in the quote is central to Harper Lee's theme: it is the innocent and the weaker members of society we must care for the most.  Bluejays are strong and aggressive birds; they are loud and able to take care of themselves.  Mockingbirds are weaker, and they are more likely to mimic other birds than to assert their own voices.  This is why characters like Boo Radley and Tom Robinson are equated with mockingbirds.  While good and kind characters, they are overshadowed by the more vocal members of society.  To prey on someone weaker is to be a bully.  It is a sin, as Atticus tells the kids.  With great power comes great responsibility.  The kids are privileged members of society; they have power.  Atticus is working to teach them to use that power wisely.

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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