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Mockingbird Symbolism

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THE GREY AREA “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” (90). Although the title of the novel has little literal connection to the actual storyline, it holds a huge amount of symbolic weight in this tale of innocents wounded by the evil surrounding them. The ‘mockingbird’ represents various characters in the novel that are harmed one way or another, particularly by the judgmental, prejudiced ways of the Maycomb townsfolk. Throughout the course of the book, the innocence they once had is destroyed, figuratively ‘killing’ the mockingbirds. Tom Robinson is a quiet, respectful and hardworking man, but all of that is irrelevant - he is black. The second he was accused of rape, the all-white jury had pretty much made up their mind. Despite the overwhelming evidence indicating his innocence, a combination of the individual jury members’ prejudices and pressure from their community led them to reach the unfair and sadly unsurprising guilty verdict. Atticus could prove that due to his crippled left arm, Tom was incapable of causing Mayella’s wounds. Link Deas claims that in all the years Tom has worked for him, he “ain’t had a speck o’ trouble outa him. Not a speck” (195) - but which story does Maycomb want to believe? The one where a typical black man without reason or motivation assaulted a white woman, or the uncomfortable version that questions their racial stereotypes- one where an innocent black man pities a white woman? As even Scout understands, “Atticus had used every tool available to free men to save Tom Robinson, but in the secret courts o... ... middle of paper ... ...childhood idealism and enters a state of disillusionment. He is forced to confront evil and incorporate it into a more adult understanding of the world. Boo lives as a recluse, avoiding the harsh judgmental community he was once apart of. Dolphus Raymond similarly avoids contact, and turns into a bitter man with little faith in the world. In contrast, Atticus maintains a positive outlook on Maycomb and society in general, despite having seen and experienced more than his fair share of evil. The author encourages readers to follow Atticus’s moral compass - to see past the often black and white portrayal of good versus evil and recognize that everyone has potential for both. This is the first step in creating a less prejudiced society where individuals are not victimized for their race or beliefs; a place where mockingbirds would be left alone to sing their hearts out.
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