Destabilizing Innocence: Lee Harper's To Kill A Mockingbird Essay

Destabilizing Innocence: Lee Harper's To Kill A Mockingbird Essay

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To Kill a Mockingbird, was published by Harper Lee in 1960, during the Civil Rights Movement. It takes place in Maycomb, Alabama in 1936 and is narrated by Jean Louise “Scout” Finch, as she recollects her childhood. The book holds many different messages, the main one centering around southern life and racial injustice. In the book, many of the characters, are affected by racial injustice, as it leads to a loss of innocence and an examination of southern life.
The mockingbird is used to symbolize innocence. A mockingbird is a harmless bird whose main goal is to make the world more pleasant by copying the music of other birds. In chapter 10, Atticus tells Jem,”I'd rather you shoot at tin cans in the backyard, 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.” (pg. 119) In that same chapter, Miss Maudie elaborates by 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. That's why it's a sin to kill a mockingbird.” (pg. 119) In To Kill a Mockingbird, the mockingbird can be used to symbolize Tom Robinson, Boo Radley, and even Jem. Each of them are affected by their society and act accordingly. Just like the mockingbird, they copy what they see and what they hear, and are judged by people because of that.
Tom Robinson was a black man, who was falsely accused of raping a white woman, named Mayella Violet Ewell. Due to the pigmentation of his skin, most of the people in Maycomb, automatically assumed he was guilty, even though it was later proven otherwise. When Atticus was closing his case, he mentioned that the mai...


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...ther chose to defend a Negro, he (Jem) could have perpetuated his innocence.
Although the title, To Kill a Mockingbird, doesn't have a literal connection to the book, it carries a great deal of symbolic weight. The mockingbird represents innocence, therefore, the title involuntarily says, to kill a mockingbird, is to kill innocence. The loss of innocence is evident throughout the book, but perhaps, it is most apparent when Tom Robinson dies. After Tom was murdered, Mr. B.B. Underwood wrote that Tom's death was similar to “...the senseless slaughter of songbirds by hunters and children.” (pg. 323) It was obvious to Scout, who was still a child throughout the whole ordeal, that Mr. Underwood wrote what he did, because Tom never had a chance. He was, “...a dead man the moment Mayella Ewell opened her mouth and screamed.” (pg. 323)


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To Kill a Mockingbird

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