Where is the symbolism in To Kill a Mockingbird?

Expert Answers
djbutler241 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Perhaps the most important symbol to discuss in To Kill A Mockingbird is the symbolism behind the mockingbird. The title is more than just a title but is a symbol for what is to come in the story. The mockingbird symbolizes innocence, so the title means that innocence is being killed or destroyed. Throughout the book, there are several characters who can be viewed as mockingbirds, such as Jem, Tom Robinson, Dill, and Boo Radley. This means that they are innocents who are damaged or destroyed by evil. After Tom Robinson is shot, Mr. Underwood even compares his death to the act of killing a songbird. Additionally, the fact that Jem, Scout, and Atticus have the last name Finch, which is a type of bird, may portray that they are vulnerable in the racist town of Maycomb.

Another symbol in To Kill a Mockingbird is Boo Radley. Boo Radley is used within the story as a means to show how Jem and Scout mature and grow throughout the story. In the beginning, Boo is a town superstition that frightens the children. This shows how innocent Jem and Scout are and that their beliefs are not based on their own, real experiences, but they are based on the beliefs of those around them. As the story continues, and Boo leaves presents for the children and mends Jem's pants, the children begin to see Boo as an intriguing and real human being, not just the town spook. In the end, they realize that he is a kind and understanding person, a mockingbird in his own right, a child damaged by a ruthless father. The changing relationship between the children and Boo Radley serves to reveal Jem and Scout's growing maturity and moral awareness.

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question