Destruction of Innocence

750 Words3 Pages
Innocent people often suffer at the hands of evil, injustice, prejudice and other harsh realities in life, thus their innocence is lost. This statement correlates with one of the major themes in the novel To kill a mockingbird by Harper Lee. In this essay we will analyse the characters of Boo Radley, Tom Robinson and Jem, and how they reflect this major theme of innocence and the destruction of innocence. We will further analyse the symbol of the mockingbird and relation to the characters and the theme. Boo Radley represents innocence in the novel. His cruel father strips his childhood and freedom away from him as he spends most of his life behind walls. As a result, the county makes up malicious stories about him. This is evident when Scout says what she has grown to know about Boo “Inside that house lives a malevolent phantom. People said he existed, but Jem and I had never seen him. People said he went out at night when the moon was down and peeped in windows. When people’s azaleas froze in a cold snap, it was because he had breathed on them. Any stealthy small committed in Maycomb was his work.” (Lee, 2006:9). In despite of the destruction made to his innocence, Boo maintains his goodness. We learn this by the little encounters he has with the children. He leaves little gifts for them at the tree, gives Scout a blanket, sews Jem’s trousers and saves the children’s lives from Bob Ewell. Mayella Ewell accuses Tom Robinson of raping her and although he is innocent, he is sentenced to death. The prejudice of the county and the jury that “a black man is always guilty” destroys Tom’s innocence. Whilst trying to escape prison Tom is shot dead. The county people do not care much about his death although he is innocent. Atticus affirms this when he says “What was one Negro, more or less, among two hundred of ‘em? He wasn’t Tom to them, he was an escaping prisoner”.
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