Symbolism In To Kill A Mockingbird And To Kill A Mockingbird

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Walt Whitman’s 1859 poem “Out of the Cradle Rocking Endlessly” depicts the mockingbird as a symbol of innocence that chants or sings of fond memories from the past. By contrast, Harper Lee’s famous novel To Kill a Mockingbird, published in 1960, written almost a century after Whitman’s poem, portrays the mockingbird as an innocent but fragile creature with horrific memories – memories of discrimination, isolation, and violence. Taking place in the Deep South town of Maycomb, Alabama, To Kill A Mockingbird is set during a time of segregation and discrimination. The title of the novel is a little deceiving since the mockingbird only appears once, but it carries a great deal of symbolic weight throughout the story. In this story of innocents destroyed…show more content…
They first appear when Jem and Scout are learning how to use their shiny new air rifles. Atticus won 't teach them how to shoot, but he does give them one rule to follow.

"I 'd rather you shot at tin cans in the back yard, 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."

That was the only time I ever heard Atticus say it was a sin to do something, and I asked Miss Maudie about
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This connection between the novel’s title and its main theme is made explicit several times in the novel. One of the more obvious characters to be likened to a mockingbird is Tom Robinson. Tom is an innocent man who did nothing wrong, and he is screwed over by the legal system twice. He is convicted in court simply because he is black, and then he is shot in prison. He was harmless, because he was a cripple, and it was completely unnecessary. After Tom Robinson is shot, Mr. Underwood compares his death to “the senseless slaughter of songbirds” (323). Killing Tom brought about no good and prevented no evil, just like shooting a
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