Symbols in To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee


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A symbol is a word or expression which signifies something other than the physical object to which it directly refers. The book “To Kill A Mockingbird” by Harper Lee contains three recognizable symbols.
“Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. They don’t eat up people’s gardens, don’t nest in corncribs, they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.” (103) This could possibly be a symbol for Tom Robinson. He was innocent, yet sentenced to death because of his ethnicity. Robinson could also be a symbol of the mockingbird in another way, killing him produced neither good nor prevented any evil, just like killing a mockingbird. Since Maycomb County never sees Boo Radley, they blame him for all of the small unexplained happenings and crimes. Atticus doesn’t believe that he should be punished for these crimes. Scout says that it would be a little like killing a mockingbird.
Maycomb County came face to face with a rabid dog named Tim Johnson one afternoon. Luckily, One-Shot-Finch (Atticus) was available to shoot the dog down. In this instance, Atticus is facing a mindless threat, much like the trial of Tom Robinson. His skill with a rifle saved the town that time, but his skill with words didn’t work as well during the trial. Rabies, like prejudice, represents the known and feared. The town knows that rabies is dangerous, they know that it should be eliminated. But sometimes they both go untreated and spread like a disease. Rabies lead to the death of the Tim Johnson. Prejudice lead to the death of Tom Robinson. Coincidence? No.
Boo Radley is a recluse. He never leaves his house. This leaves everyone in Maycomb County to imagine things about him. Boo Radley is sort of a timeline of growing up. He starts off as just a figment of the children’s imaginations, but at the end of the book, he reveals himself as a real person. All of the children’s ideas prove to be false. He is also a symbol of the good within people. After living in a box for a great part of his life, Boo Radley has the decency to give gifts to Jem and Scout. He even saves their lives in the end. The book ends with Atticus reading a book called The Gray Ghost.

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The book was about a character called “Stoner’s Boy”. He was accused of vandalizing a treehouse. People tried chasing him, but they had a disability, they didn’t know what he looked like. When they finally saw him, they realized that he was completely innocent. When Boo Radley was younger, it was said that he got into some trouble and resisted arrest. Consequently, he was locked in the courthouse outhouse. Years later, he rumordely stabbed his father in the leg with a pair of scissors. For this, he was locked in the courthouse basement for many years. After all of this, the town made up many more false rumors about him. It turns out that Boo Radley is actually a kind fellow.
Symbolism is used extensively in this novel. It reveals the narrow-mindedness and prejudice of Maycomb County in the 1930’s.


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