Symbolism - to Kill a Mocking Bird

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The symbol of the mocking bird, a sign of innocence, is present through many characters in Harper Lee's novel 'To Kill a Mockingbird'. In her telling of the powerful and moving story Lee portrays the messages of innocence being corrupted by characters through bigotry and intolerance. The co-existence of good and evil is shown by using characters to reflect each factor. Although there are no literal mockingbirds in the book, characters represent both mockingbirds that are harmed and those that are not. Throughout the novel, mockingbirds and other songbirds are representations of purity and generosity. Many characters refer to the killing of a mockingbird when a character is hurt or corrupted by prejudice and the harshness of society. “Remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.” That was the only time I ever heard Atticus say it was a sin to do something, and I asked Miss Maudie about it. “Your father’s right,” she said. “Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy . . . but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.” (p 98) Atticus tells Jem and Scout this when he presents them with a gun for their christmas present and tells them never to shoot a mockingbird. The idea behind the warning given by Atticus and Miss Maudie is that if one was to kill a mockingbird, they would be destroying a symbol of innocence. The corruptions that affect the novel’s ‘mockingbirds’ are there to reflect the main message- that innocence can be mutilated by prejudice and intolerance. The existence of both innocence and prejudice reflects that good and evil exist together and are part of one another in all situations. This juxtaposition is central to the concept of the novel. Jem Finch and Tom Robinson are two primary characters whose innocence or characteristics are deeply affected by events that are seen as killing
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