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How effective is Harper Lee's title of To Kill a Mockingbird?

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Introduction

How effective is Harper Lee's title of To Kill a Mockingbird? '" Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit 'em, but 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. 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."' (p. 96) From the above quote we learn that a mockingbird gives only pleasure to people. It does not harm anyone, or destroy people's gardens, like other birds might do. The book can be said to contain 'human mockingbirds' who, each in their own way, are persecuted or treated badly through no fault of their own. Probably the two main and most obvious mockingbirds in the novel are Boo Radley and Tom Robinson. ...read more.

Middle

This could also explain why Boo stayed in his house all the time and show how Boo became one of the outsiders and was still a victim of the prejudice, as he was different. He didn't want to see the injustice and unfairness happening all around him. Tom Robinson is also a major mockingbird. When Mayella Ewell accuses him of raping her, he is put on trial and found guilty. This is a wrongful decision on behalf of the jury as there is sufficient evidence to suggest it was actually Bob Ewell, Mayella's father, who raped her and not Tom; the fact that Tom's arm was useless and could not be used in a fight, the fact that Bob Ewell was ambidextrous and therefore could lash out at her, among other evidence. Tom is prejudiced against because he is black, and black is seen here as being the inferior race. Towards the end of the book, the events of the trial become too much for Tom, and he tries to escape from prison. ...read more.

Conclusion

Other characters I think could be seen as minor mockingbirds are Dolphus Raymond and his family. He is seen as an outcast because he married a black woman, and his children because they do not fit in with neither the blacks nor the whites; the whites won't have anything to do with them because they (the children) are not properly white, nor will the blacks because they are not properly black. Dolphus therefore pretends to be hooked on drink so as to make people think he 'won't change his ways'. This is yet another way as to how people in the book can't accept others' way of life. In conclusion, I think the title of the book, To Kill a Mockingbird, is very effective because it makes us think of all the 'sins' in the book, i.e. the prejudice characters receive, the way they are treated by others. Harper Lee has an interesting way of communicating to us the torments through which people go through, from the way Tom Robinson is wrongly convicted, to the discrimination Dolphus Raymond receives because of his way of life. ...read more.

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