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Significant motifs - The "Mockingbird".

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SIGNIFICANT MOTIFS - THE "MOCKINGBIRD" The mockingbird is a powerful motif and metaphor that is recurrent in the story. The title itself - "To Kill a Mockingbird" is revealing enough. The mockingbird is a songbird found in the North American continent, and is the state bird of Texas. We shall come to look at what the bird symbolizes by first looking at its treatment in the text. Reference is made to the mockingbird many a time in the story, and it is first mentioned in Chapter 10. Atticus says, "I'd rather you shot at tin cans in the back yard, but I know you'll go after birds. Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit 'em, but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird." This revelation on Atticus's part was backed up by Miss Maudie saying, "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. ...read more.


In this case, we see that Atticus makes a good parent who acts as the children's educator, as he their role model and imparts to them his values and believes. In the last Chapter Atticus speaks about his experiences at being an educator. "Before Jem looks at anyone else he looks at me, and I've tried to live so I can look squarely back at him..." he says. The children coming to terms with prejudices and inequality seem premature to some stoic believers in tradition, such as Aunt Alexandra, who frequently comments that Scout is too young to be doing what she does. Jem's case is much more complicated than Scout's, as he is embarking on his formative years. Although it can be said that both children lose any innocence they might have before the trial, as well as na�ve notions about the society in which they live in, there is a difference in the way their learning takes place. Jem is expected to and eventually figures things out for himself and in the midst becomes irritable and foreign to Scout. ...read more.


Our sympathy is further stretched when he is killed while trying to escape from the prison. At the end of Chapter 25, it is mentioned that Mr. Underwood likened Tom's death to the "senseless slaughter of songbirds by hunters and children". In Chapter 28 it was mentioned that "a solitary mocker" was singing in a tree in the Radley's compound. Although Arthur "Boo" Radley was drawn up to be frightening and insane, unlike the mockingbird which is endeared to innocence and love. However ultimately he is likened to the mockingbird. He is a recluse and is never seen outside the house except at the end of the story, which foreshadows his heroic rescue of the children from Bob Ewell's violent disposition. In Chapter 23, Jem remarks that Boo actually stays inside the house because he wants to. So jaded is Boo by the many insincerities that the people commit as they betray their own conscience that he deliberately and purposefully shields himself from the harsh and callous truths. ...read more.

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