• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

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

Extracts from this document...


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.


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.


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.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Harper Lee section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Harper Lee essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    To Kill a Mocking Bird. In this essay, I will explore the ways in ...

    5 star(s)

    It is clear that Mr Radley cares about his social status as he reluctant to show the weaknesses of his family (by sending his son to a reformatory school). However, one could argue that social standards are nothing if the family's' relationship is inefficient as it is the basis on which others judge you.

  2. Marked by a teacher

    What Is The Importance Of "Atticus Finch" in "To Kill A Mocking Bird" by ...

    4 star(s)

    Even though the children, (Jem, Dill and Scout), are younger than all the black people seated in the balcony, four fully grown black adults move off the front row bench to allow the children to sit down. The white children to sit down.

  1. Peer reviewed

    Examine the different kinds of prejudice and injustice which you have found in 'To ...

    4 star(s)

    "Miss Caroline told me to tell my father not to teach me any more, it would interefere with my reading." Scout is very upset by this and does not see why it is wrong that she is ahead of her peers.

  2. How does Harper Lee use minor characters to explain some of the main concerns ...

    Another subplot that Harper Lee uses to teach us about prejudice is the criticisms of Lula when Scout and Jem's take a trip to Calpurnia's church whilst Atticus is away. Lula, a tall black woman, attacks Calpurnia for bringing white children to a black church claiming "you ain't got no

  1. To Kill A Mockingbird Imagery and Symbolism

    Also, she begins to respect her father. At the beginning, when he won't play football with the Methodists, she tells people that Atticus is just too old. However she changes her opinion when she is told that Atticus is the best shot in Maycombe, and it comes to shooting the dog and she realises how good her

  2. To Kill A Mockingbird Full Summary

    against the word of the white people, and that the Ewells' case depends upon the jury's assumption that "all black men lie." Atticus reminds everyone that there are honest and dishonest black people just as there are honest and dishonest white people.

  1. What important lessons do the children learn in Part I of 'To Kill a ...

    He is using the idea of considering things from another person's point of view, telling the children that they need to understand this is the way that he lives so to let him do what he wants because he cannot live the way they do in society.

  2. How does Harper Lee explore the themes of empathy and tolerance in Chapter 3 ...

    on, where if we can truly see things the way other people see things, we will at least begin to understand them, even if we don?t agree with them. Furthermore, this quote is a teaching for Scout to understand and tolerate Miss Caroline?s lack of understanding towards her in Chapter

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work