What is a quote that deals with good vs. evil in the novel To Kill a Mockingbird?

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gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Chapter 10, Atticus gives his children their air rifles and 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 57).

Atticus' directive to shoot all the bluejays they want as long as they do not kill any mockingbirds is a metaphor regarding "good vs. evil." Bluejays symbolically represent "evil." Bluejays are territorial birds which are considered a nuisance and are known to attack songbirds. The notorious Bob Ewell is symbolically represented as a bluejay throughout the novel. In contrast, mockingbirds are innocent beings who spread joy through their beautiful music. They symbolically represent "good" in Atticus' metaphor. Atticus encourages his children to respect innocent individuals and protect them from harm. The characters of Tom Robinson and Boo Radley symbolically represent mockingbirds. Atticus courageously defends Tom Robinson in front of a prejudiced jury, and Sheriff Tate refuses to force Boo Radley into the limelight following Boo's heroic actions. Jem and Scout learn the importance of distinguishing between good and evil, and how to respond to each by following Atticus' directive to shoot the bluejays, but not the mockingbirds.

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

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