Which character is better for analysis in my thesis statement on subject of who are mockingbirds: Boo, Tom, or Jem? (I see Tom, Boo, and Jem as mockingbirds because they are kind and harmless...

Which character is better for analysis in my thesis statement on subject of who are mockingbirds: Boo, Tom, or Jem? 

(I see Tom, Boo, and Jem as mockingbirds because they are kind and harmless to others) What should I say in body paragraphs for each thesis?

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Expert Answers
MaudlinStreet eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Boo Radley exemplifies the mockingbird motif in the novel. Constantly hidden in the shadows, he only truly emerges at the end. In his quiet way, through the gifts left in the tree and the blanket around Scout’s shoulders the night of the fire that destroys Miss Maudie’s house, Boo has been interacting with Jem and Scout through the entire story, but it is not until the end that the children understand his true nature.

This lesson is first revealed when Atticus buys the children guns.

Atticus said to Jem one day, “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.”

That’s the only time I ever heard Atticus say it was a sin to do something, and I asked Miss Maudie about it.

“Your father is right,” she said. “Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. They don’t eat up people’s gardens, don’t nest in corncribs, they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.”

Without realizing, Jem, Scout, and Dill have in a way been trying to kill that mockingbird. The children have built up a view of Boo based solely on a preconceived notion that is completely wrong. This is similar to the racism evident in the rest of the town: a judgment made before knowledge. Yet from that notion they have developed a pattern of behavior that seeks to destroy the true nature of Boo by pretending that it could not possibly exist. It is Atticus and Ms. Maudie who try to point out their errors.

It is through the attack on the children and Sheriff Tate's understanding that Boo’s identification as a mockingbird becomes most clear. The sheltered innocence of Boo’s life would be threatened should he be brought to trial for the death of Bob Ewell, even though he would most likely be acquitted as a hero. It is this hero worship that would “kill” the mockingbird, Tate believes. The people, especially the women, would bother him continually with food and praise for such a brave act. Such attention would ultimately destroy who Boo is, his innocence, and his quiet love for the children of Atticus Finch. Scout and Jem finally acknowledge this at the end. When Atticus asks Scout if she understands why they will say Bob Ewell fell on his own knife, she replies that is they did it any other way, "Well, it'd be sort of like shootin' a mockingbird, wouldn't it?

Tom's connection is not as obvious; it is inferred from his character, rather than directly stated. Innocent of the crime for which he is tried, he valiantly attempts to prove that innocence to the society which has already judged him. His noble life has brought joy to those with whom he has come into contact, but for most in the town, his skin color has already convicted him. Even with Mayella Ewell, he has tried to help her, something which her family cannot seem to do. Yet for his attempt he is killed, crushed by the racism that is so deeply embedded in the community. With his death, Dill, Jem, and Scout come face to face with the sin that has killed this mockingbird.

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Tom Robinson and Boo Radley are better candidates for your thesis than Jem is since they are simple, harmless men who do not bother anyone just as mockingbirds do not bother anyone.  Jem, on the other hand, exhibits some vindictive behavior as he cuts the chrysanthemums of Mrs. DuBose after she insults his father.

You may wish to return to Chapter 10 in which Atticus says that "it's a sin to kill a mockingbird," and Miss Maudie offers the following explanation:

Mockingbirds don't do one thing but make music for us to enjoy.  They don't eat up people's gardens, don't nest in corncribs, they don't do one thing but sing their heart out for us.  That's why it's a sin to kill a mockingbird.

With this statement of Miss Maudie's in mind, you can draw parallels to Tom and to Boo, (1) who quietly remain in the wings [as of a stage] of society, not bothering anyone like Miss Stephanie, the town gossip. (2) They are kind-hearted and charitable, however, when needed by someone. (3) Also, they are really too wounded to be able to stand up to the gossips and crueler people in town.  As support for these points, return to passages in the novel that explain how Tom and Boo are innocent bystanders of the town and only become involved when needed by someone else, and how they are threatened by others when they do extend their charity.

zara-aj | Student

As the other answers have already reviewed, the quotation in chapter 10 should be the basis for what is a mockingbird. And that is one who doesn't cause harm to others, but they also "make music for us to enjoy". So it would be wise to elaborate on how your choice of mockingbirds do good for society and not harming others in the meantime.

But because the quotation also talks of how they "sing their hearts out for us", you could actually also pick Atticus as a mockingbird. For the fact that he benefits and does his best for the society and is shot down by society for defending Tom Robinson. He is a mockingbird also because of how he is actually doing a good thing but is shot down maycomb's prejudice regardless of it.

What can be in your body?

In the case of Atticus, and if you want to stick to your definition of mockingbirds being harmless, you can say Atticus is harmless for the fact he is a gentlemen. He exemplifies this behaviour he reacted calmly when insulted by Bob Ewell and upon finding out about Mrs Dubose's insults.

Then just talk about how he was a gentlemen during these events :D

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question