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Essay on The Mockingbirds in To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee

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Walt Whitman’s 1859 poem “Out of the Cradle Rocking Endlessly” depicts the mockingbird as a symbol of innocence that chants or sings of fond memories from the past. By contrast, Harper Lee’s famous novel To Kill a Mockingbird, published in 1960, written almost a century after Whitman’s poem, portrays the mockingbird as innocent but as a fragile creature with horrific memories – memories of discrimination, isolation, and violence. Harper Lee wrote her novel, which is rooted in the fictional town of Maycomb, Alabama, in the Deep South, during a time of segregation and discrimination, social issues which can be seen not only in the novel but were witnessed by Harper Lee in her own life. While Lee does insert bits and pieces of her own life into the novel, this fictional story is told by the character Jean Louise Finch, better known as “Scout.” She tells a horrific yet heroic story about a time in the 1930’s from a childhood perspective. The title of Lee’s book is not at first as apparent as it would seem. In fact, the only literal reference to the mockingbird appears only once in the novel. The reader, then, must probe deeply into the characters and events of the book to uncover the significance of the mockingbird. After seeing the treatment and the unyielding courage of Tom Robinson, Boo Radley, and Atticus Finch, the reader can easily identify these three as mockingbirds.
To fully appreciate and understand the symbolism in To Kill a Mockingbird, it is important to understand the time period in which Harper grew up as well as the characteristics of the mockingbird. The main character and narrator Scout Finch and Harper Lee are similar in many ways. Born in Monroeville, Alabama, on April 28, 1926, to Frances Cunningham Finch...


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...entral, 1960.
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McGovern, Edythe M. "Harper Lee." Critical Survey Of Long Fiction, Fourth Edition
(2010): 1-4. Literary Reference Center. Web. 10 Dec. 2013.
"Mockingbird." Encyclopedia Of Animals (2006): 1. Middle Search Plus. Web. 8 Dec.
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"Northern Mockingbird." All About Birds. Cornell Lab of Orinthology, n.d. Web. 11 Dec.
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Smykowski, Adam. "Symbolism and Racism in To Kill a Mockingbird." Readings on "To

Kill a Mockingbird" San Diego, Calif.: Greenhaven, 2000. 52-56. Rpt. In

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"To Kill a Mockingbird." The Big Read. N.p., n.d. Web. 8 Dec. 2013.


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Essay on The Mockingbirds in To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee - Walt Whitman’s 1859 poem “Out of the Cradle Rocking Endlessly” depicts the mockingbird as a symbol of innocence that chants or sings of fond memories from the past. By contrast, Harper Lee’s famous novel To Kill a Mockingbird, published in 1960, written almost a century after Whitman’s poem, portrays the mockingbird as innocent but as a fragile creature with horrific memories – memories of discrimination, isolation, and violence. Harper Lee wrote her novel, which is rooted in the fictional town of Maycomb, Alabama, in the Deep South, during a time of segregation and discrimination, social issues which can be seen not only in the novel but were witnessed by Harper Lee in her own life....   [tags: To Kill a Mockingbird Essays]
:: 4 Works Cited
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