To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee - Answers

Satisfactory Essays
To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Question : On giving Jem and Scout air rifles, Atticus tells them that to kill a mockingbird is a sin. Miss Maudie explains that mockingbirds only do one thing, and that is to sing their hearts out for us. Who are the mockingbirds in the story, and how have they been
‘killed’ by the society around them?

Ideas : The two main mockingbirds are Boo Radley and Tom Robinson, but there are others within the storyline.

Boo Radley has been shut away from the world by his father and then later his brother through an incident which occurred fifteen years earlier when he stabbed his father with a pair of scissors. The suggestion is that he had gone mad and should have been committed to an asylum. His influence in our story is all-good in that he gives gifts to the children, repairs Jem’s pants when they are caught on the fence and, of course, saves the children’s lives when Bob Ewell attacks them. Sheriff Tate recognizes the vulnerability of Boo and that any publicity would destroy him, so he says that the death was an accident. Tom Robinson is actually killed and his death is a sin committed by the whole white community of Maycomb. All he tried to do was to abide by the rules of the society in which he lived and when a black person is asked to do a chore he obeys.

The main enemies of birds are cats and Lee describes Mayella as being like ‘a steady-eyed cat with a twitchy tale’ and the bird she is focusing on is of course, Tom Robinson. Lee’s description is that of a cat stalking its prey.

Jem to some degree was also a mockingbird. He went with Scout to the black church in order to please Calpurnia, and the Rev. Sykes. Jem suffers in that his youthful idealism is shattered by the verdict given by the all-white jury at the trial.

The pet-dog of Maycomb is called Tim Johnson, a bird-dog, who one day acts strangely because he has caught rabies. He gave pleasure to the townsfolk, but suddenly he now causes fear. So much so that even the mockingbirds are silent. Atticus shoots the dog for the good of the whole town.

Question : Discrimination rears its ugly head in many forms within this story. Give examples of this.

Ideas : The obvious discrimination is that of the dominant white community over the subservient black community. They are not given the same opportunities regarding education, illustrated by the visit to the Negro church where only a few can read.
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