Why is the novel called To Kill a Mockingbird?
Explain the title.
The mockingbird is the symbol of innocence and beauty in the novel, and the peaceful creature serves to symbolize many of the humans who appear as characters. Atticus first introduces the idea of it being "a sin to kill a mockingbird" after Jem and Scout receive air rifles as Christmas presents, and Miss Maudie explains to Scout how the songbird presents no danger to crops, and that they only
"... make music for us to enjoy... they don't do one thing but sing their hearts out for us." (Chapter 10)
Author Harper Lee extends the symbolism of the songbird to Atticus and his children: They are Finches, and like the mockingbird, the finch is also a peaceful songbird. The characteristics of the mockingbird are also found in most of the children--especially Jem, Scout and Dill--as well as in adults like Tom Robinson and Boo Radley. Tom is a peaceful, innocent man who has been accused of a crime of which he is not guilty; he later dies tragically, and his death is likened to the "senseless slaughter of innocent songbirds by hunters and children..." Boo is also accused of crimes of which he is innocent, and at the end of the story, Scout compares the idea of Boo standing trial for Bob Ewell's murder as
"... sort of like shootin' a mockingbird." (Chapter 30)
When Atticus gives Jem a rifle he tells him it's a sin to kill a mockingbird because mockingbirds bring pleasure to the world with their songs. At the end of the book when Atticus is thinking that the truth of Bob Ewell's death be revealed (Boo Radley killed him.), Scout tells him that exposing Boo to all of the adulation of the community would be like killing a mockingbird because Boo never harmed anyone, the the adulation would hurt him.