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What is a Mockingbird?

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What is a Mockingbird? "It's a sin to kill a mocking bird" (90). When Atticus Finch says this in Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird, what does he really mean? Mockingbirds are simple creatures; they don't cause anybody any harm. They are innocent in every way. So why kill them? Atticus is trying to tell his kids that it is wrong to persecute some one who did nothing bad towards them. This is one of the main themes in To Kill A Mockingbird. Many characters in the book symbolize "mockingbirds" to show that an ordinary person can be accused wrongfully. Boo Radley along with Scout and Dolphus Raymond, are all great examples. They are all targeted at without thought or reason and they are forced to fight or live with it. Boo Radley is one of the best examples of a "mockingbird" in the novel. While Boo Radley is inside, he is getting the worst reputation in town; "Any stealthy small crimes committed in Maycomb were his work" (9). ...read more.


Scout may not be the most obvious "mockingbird", but she is a great model of one never the less. Most of her innocence originates from being young and not knowing what she has done or said is offensive to some people. Kids at school call her names because her father is defending a black man. Especially when "[Cecil Jacobs] had announced in the schoolyard ... Scout Finch's daddy defended niggers" (74). Scout doesn't know what a "nigger" is, but the way Cecil said it, she knew instantly that it had to be something terrible. She punched him and fought him. It is not her fault which choices her father makes, and why should anybody be persecuted in the first place when the choice is a good one. Scout usually chooses to fight her label, and chooses to do it with violence. Their first grade teacher hounds her for trying to tell her that Walter won't take her money because he is a Cunningham, and he won't take what he can't pay back; "Miss Caroline picked up her ruler, gave me half a dozen quick pats then tolled me to stand in the corner" (22). ...read more.


Because of this people tend to exaggerate about how he lives. They say that "he's got a Co-Cola bottle full of whisky" (160) in a brown paper bag that he drinks from all the time. This bottle is in fact filled with Coca-Cola the whole time. Sometimes people just see in others what they want to see before judging them fairly. Dolphus gives people a reason he lives the way he lives; he doesn't want people to keep bugging him about it to his face. He doesn't just consent that he is a "mockingbird" in Maycomb's society, but he gives people a reason to make him one. "Mockingbirds" in the world have a very tough life. And that's what Atticus is trying to teach his children: not to punish an innocent person, not to jump to crazy conclusions that you heard from a friend of a friend, and not to judge somebody before you really know them to say they're guilty. Atticus is trying to teach his kids a very important life lesson. If everybody knew it, the world would be a better place. ...read more.

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