In the book To Kill a Mockingbird, Atticus tells Jem he can shoot all the birds he wants except the mockingbird. “Remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird,” he warns Jem. Their neighbor explains that mockingbirds make beautiful music and cause no harm. The quote demonstrates justice as a theme of the novel. If justice prevailed, mockingbirds would not be killed, all-white juries would deliver a fair verdict against a black man in the segregated south, and Tom Robinson would rejoin his family. However, justice is not fair in Maycomb.
At the end of the novel after Scout and Jem are attacked and Bob Ewell is found dead, Sheriff Tate knows there is only way to secure justice. Although the sheriff realizes Boo Radley killed Ewell, he offers a version that will protect Boo. “To my way of thinkin’, Mr. Finch, taking the one man who’s done you and this town a great service an’ draggin’ him with his shy ways into the limelight—to me, that’s a sin. It’s a sin and I’m not about to have it on my head.” According to Tate, justice has to be constructed in Maycomb.