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To what extent does Harper Lee's Symbolism contribute to the overall effectiveness of To Kill a Mocking Bird?

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Introduction

To what extent does Harper Lee's Symbolism contribute to the overall effectiveness of To Kill a Mocking Bird? 'Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit 'em, but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird.' Symbolism is an important aspect in this novel. Harper Lee was writing in the 1950s, a time when racial tension in America was an important social issue. She said that Maycomb is a 'microcosm of America' at that time. She grew up in a town called Monroeville in the 1930s. This is the same period that the book is set in. Her father came to Monroeville in 1902, which is only 37 years after the end of the American civil war. Between 1861 and 1865 the northern and southern states fought each other because the northern states wanted to stop slavery. At the end of the civil war the slaves were set free but the southerners resented this and carried on treating them as if they were inferior. There were 3.5 million black slaves in the 19th century. Nearly all the black people in the southern states were descended from slaves. Maycomb is set in Alabama, which is one of the slave states, and Harper Lee uses symbolism to pursue her opinions on racial and other prejudice issues. Harper Lee lived the same life style as Scout and Jem when she was growing up, as her father was a lawyer, and there was a similar case concerning the rape of white women by black men during her childhood. ...read more.

Middle

Perhaps her clothes are a symbol of the fact that she has not yet learnt to be prejudiced like the ladies of Maycomb. Scout climbs into her treehouse and watches the children...'secretly sharing their misfortunes and minor victories. I longed to join them.' This symbolises her wish to grow up and be an adult, although she is still outside that world she begins to see more of what is going on. The theme of growing up is another part of the novel. It is effective to have Scout as the narrator because you can tell that she is growing up by the way her language changes, and because she is a child it makes what she says believable. It doesn't matter if she says something prejudiced or silly because she does not know better yet. It is also good having Scout as the narrator because as she is a child the adults have to explain things to her and it helps the reader to understand it. It is like explaining it to the reader and using Scout to communicate to us. The Radley house has been shut up and uncared for a long time. It is in the dark because ..'oak trees kept the sun away..'. It is a place that frightens the children but they keep trying to lure Boo Radley out of it. ...read more.

Conclusion

The choice of scarlet also seems to make the geraniums more important. Harper Lee uses symbolism throughout the novel. All the symbols create different effects but they all contribute to the overall effectiveness of 'To Kill a Mocking Bird'. Even at the end of the book she uses the symbolism of the mocking bird as well as introducing the Grey Phantom, which seems to represent Boo. Because Harper Lee grew up in this kind of lifestyle, she has seen this type of prejudice and wants to get her point across in the style of a novel rather than a political article. This leads her to use symbolism so that difficult and possibly unwelcome ideas can be put across in simple pictures and situations. In conclusion, Harper Lee uses many different symbols and themes to create a strong view of the way people might have thought in the 1950s. At the time that Harper Lee was writing this novel, there was a lot of racial tension as black people were pushing to gain rights and white people were resisting, particularly in the southern states. If Harper Lee was trying to change people's opinions, it isn't very likely that she did because her support of black people isn't very hidden in the novel. It seems unlikely that a prejudiced person would enjoy reading this book. The symbols are used to reinforce the themes that are already there in the story. Janine Ranson 53613 18-10-03 1 ...read more.

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