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To Kill a Mockingbird

by Harper Lee

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What are some physical themes or important props in To Kill a Mockingbird?

Quick answer:

The mockingbird, the knothole, the Radley house, and the morphodite snowman are all props that serve as metaphors in TKAM.

Expert Answers

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THE MOCKINGBIRD.  The mockingbird, of course, serves as a symbol of innocence and goodness in TKAM. Atticus (and Miss Maudie) claim that "it's a sin to kill a mockingbird" because they hurt no one and only provide happiness to others. Most of the children (and several adults, particularly Boo and Tom) are represented symbolically as human mockingbirds.

THE KNOTHOLE.  The knothole in the Radley oak tree is the secret hiding place for Boo's gifts to Jem and Scout. It is his way of communicating with his new, would-be friends. 

THE RADLEY HOUSE.  Boo's home serves as a place of foreboding and mystery throughout the story. No one knows what goes on inside, but Jem, Scout and Dill would sure like to find out. It also brings out the courageous daring of the children: Scout rolls into the yard in the tire; Dill dares Jem to touch the house; and the porch nearly provides them with a glimpse of Boo (or his shadow, at least). In the end, Scout stands on the front porch, triumphantly looking over her neighborhood from a new perspective.

THE MORPHODITE SNOWMAN.  White on the outside and black on the inside, the children's snowman serves as a composite of Maycomb's citizens and a symbol for the racial turmoil that comes later with the Tom Robinson trial.

SCOUT'S HAM COSTUME.  Wearing it home from the Halloween carnival proved to be the protection that saved her life from Bob Ewell's knife thrusts.

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