Decoding Symbolism and Prejudice in 'To Kill a Mockingbird'

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Throughout the novel Harper Lee explores the racism, prejudice, and the innocence that occurs throughout the book. She shows these topics through her strong use of symbolism throughout the story. Even though To Kill a Mockingbird was written in 1960’s the powerful symbolism this book contributes to our society is tremendous. This attribute is racism (Smykowski). To Kill a Mockingbird reveals a story about Scout’s childhood growing up with her father and brother, in an accustomed southern town that believed heavily in ethnological morals (Shackelford). Atticus was appointed to defend Tom Robinson in a court trial. Tom was a black man that was being incriminated for allegedly raping Mayella Ewell (Lee 86). Her father, Bob Ewell, accused Tom From the rumors they have heard about him, he seems like a mysteriously strange human being. They want to get to know him as he leaves them surprises in the tree, and even saves Jem’s life (Best). Finally, Scout decided to put herself in Boo Radley’s shoes. She began to see the outlook on his side. Kasper says, “Scout at last begins to see Boo Radley as a human being.” (Kasper). Another form of prejudice that is found in To Kill a Mockingbird is religious prejudice. This form is first shown when the children are with Miss Maudie while she was tending to her garden. Jem, Scout and Dill kept asking questions about Mr. Radley. Miss Maudie tells them about Mr. Radley’s religious beliefs, calling him one of the “foot washing Baptists”, believers that believe that anything that gives you pleasure is a sin (Lee 49). Miss Maudie was not very religious like other people in the community. The Baptists believed she spent too much time in her garden and not enough time reading her bible. Therefore she would be going to hell when she died (Lee Mockingbirds do no harm to anything they just sing. The two characters in this book that represents this symbol is Tom Robinson, and Boo Radley. Tom Robinson is a “mockingbird” because he is wrongfully accused of raping a white girl. Through the prejudice of the people in Macomb he later convicted and killed, even when he never did anything to Mayella Ewell. Boo Radley is also another great example of a “mockingbird” because no accepts him throughout the town which forces him to hide in his home. He had rumors spread about him how that he was a bad guy. But he was nothing but kind to the children and even saved their lives (Dave). Tom Robinson is the perfect character example of innocence in this novel. This man is being charged with a crime he did not even commit, yet was tried and convicted as guilty when he had nothing to do with crime; except with being at the wrong place at the wrong time and the color of his skin. The jury never even thought twice about Tom being innocent

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