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What is the significance of the title 'To Kill a Mockingbird?'

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Introduction

What is the significance of the title 'To Kill a Mockingbird?' In this novel the most significant symbol is the mocking bird. A mocking bird is a type of Finch: a small, discrete bird with a beautiful song, which 'mocks' or imitates the other birds' song. One of the most explicit references made about mocking birds is that in chapter 10. Atticus is telling Scout and Jem how top use their shotguns for the first time, he says, 'Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit'em but remember it's a sign to kill a Mockingbird.' Harper Lee uses symbolism implicitly to liken mocking birds to certain characters and explicit references to describe the atmosphere created by events throughout the book. Mocking birds are used throughout the novel to represent innocence; Miss Maudie explains this to Scout. Scout is surprised to hear non-judgemental Atticus calling anything a sin. She asks Miss Maudie why Atticus has said it is wrong and she replies with the explanation, 'Mockingbirds don't do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. They don't eat up people's gardens, don't mess in corncribs, they don't do one thing but sign their hearts out for us. That's why it's a sin to kill a Mockingbird.' By saying this Miss Maudie is saying they do nothing to threaten us our harm us and are effectively innocent, so why kill them pointlessly. ...read more.

Middle

Scout says, 'Well it'd sort of be like shootin' a Mockingbird, wouldn't it?' by doing this she is relating Boo to a mocking bird because he is vulnerable and to draw attention towards a vulnerable person would be a sin in itself, as Heck Tate claims. When the mocking bird sings it brings harmony to the atmosphere and is a symbol of beauty. In Chapter 28, when Scout and Jem are on their way to the pageant, Scout reports that the mocking bird 'pours out his repertoire in blissful unawareness of whose tree he sat in, 'as they pass a tree by the Radley place. The mocking bird is highlighting its innocence in that it doesn't understand whose tree it is sitting in and that it could be a threat to its existence. Many of the main characters in the book have the characteristics of a mocking bird. One of the most explicit references to a mocking bird is Atticus' name, Finch. A mocking bird is a type of Finch and by calling him Atticus Finch, it makes a direct connection between the bird and the character. Atticus' job is that of a lawyer, in the courtroom he fights for equality and anti-racism, by doing this he imitates the opinions of the people in Maycomb. Aunt Alexandra reveals her opinions on his about the rest of the county, when she says, 'I mean this town. ...read more.

Conclusion

This makes him easily persecuted by the children and the people of Maycomb, when they make stories and gossip about him. Boo Radley was dominated by his father, as he was 'locked in the court-house basement' and wasn't seen for fifteen years after he was arrested for being a member of the 'nearest thing to a gang' in Maycomb. This has made him into a shadow of a human being and caused him to stay inside for his entire life. The white citizens of Maycomb equally dominate Tom Robinson throughout his life, throughout his trial and when he is sent to prison. Such domination led Tom to try and escape from prison and in doing so cause his death. Both characters are caring, for example, Boo Radley gives Jem and Scout two figurines, chewing gum, a tarnished medal, pocket watch and an aluminium knife via a knot-hole in a tree in the Radley property. However, Mr Radley cements the hole so Boo cannot send gifts to the children anymore, this is also an example of Boo's domination. Tom Robinson helps Mayella Ewell on her property do many chores, as he feels sorry for her. On the evening of his accused crime he was asked by Mayella to fix a door in the house. He never accepted any money from Mayella for doing these tasks. In this way he is alike a mocking bird, he is caring. Harper Lee uses all these devices to accentuate the symbol of a mocking bird. By Louise Collins ...read more.

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