Essay PreviewMore ↓
Use of Symbolism in To Kill a Mockingbird
Harper Lee effectively uses symbolism throughout her novel, To Kill a Mockingbird.
Jem's nursing of the flowers denotes his courage that he nurses in order to be able to tolerate people's criticism of his family, especially of his father. He was forced to take care of the camellias just as he was forced to live with anger, disappointment and a big question mark in his young heart about the workings of grownups. Atticus "never thought Jem'd be the one to lose his head over this" (110). However Jem did 'lose his head' and now he has to find the strength to control his emotions in order to avoid further trouble. This courage was hard to find but Mrs Dubose did find it and managed to break herself from morphine before she died. She also made sure Jem got a white waxy camellia she had prepared for him. The waxy camellia, the "Snow-on-the-Mountain" (118), could be a symbol of courage. She built her spirit little by little just as when she was making the camellia. Now it is Jem's turn to build his own. And as the camellia out of wax does not wither, in the same sense, true courage may be hard to build, but once built, it never leaves you.
Mrs Dubose's camellias are not the only flowers that can be seen symbolically. Mayella Ewell's red geraniums also carry an important meaning. During the Robinson trial the reader is given a description of the Ewell's property. It is said that "what passed for a fence was bits of tree-limbs , broomsticks and tool shafts, all tipped with rusty hammer-heads, snaggle-toothed rake heads, shovels, axes and grubbing hoes, held on with pieces of barbed wire. Enclosed by this barricade was a dirty yard containing the remains of a Model-T Ford, a discarded dentist's chair, an ancient ice-box, plus lesser items: old shoes, worn-out table radios, picture frames, and fruit jars, under which scrawny orange chickens pecked hopefully". (176) The general picture one acquires by this description is that of a small dump, a place totally disordered like the "playhouse of an insane child" (176). One can easily guess the rank of the people who lived there. However, "against the fence, in a line, were six chipped-enamel slop jars holding brilliant red geraniums, cared for as tenderly as if they belonged to Miss Maudie Atkinson.
How to Cite this Page
"Use of Symbols and Symbolism in To Kill A Mockingbird." 123HelpMe.com. 20 Feb 2019
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- Harper Lee, the author of the novel To Kill A Mockingbird, certainly and effectively used symbolism with flowers throughout the story. The first example of symbolism would be how the author used Camellias to describe Mrs.Dubose. The Camellia is the state flower of Alabama which is where To Kill A Mockingbird takes place. It thrives in acidic soil, has fairly deep roots and grows rapidly, up to 20 feet. It grows in Mrs. Duboses's garden and has an alternate meaning of prejudice in Maycomb. As evidence, "he [Jem] .... [tags: prejudice, addict, flowers]
800 words (2.3 pages)
- Use of Symbolism in To Kill A Mockingbird "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." This is what Atticus Finch tells his children after they are given air-rifles for Christmas. Uniquely, the title of the classic novel by Harper Lee, To Kill A Mockingbird, was taken from this passage. At first glance, one may wonder why Harper Lee decided to name her book after what seems to be a rather insignificant excerpt.... [tags: Kill Mockingbird essays]
1709 words (4.9 pages)
- Use of Symbolism in To Kill a Mockingbird It is quite noticeable that some characters' names in To Kill a Mockingbird are implicitly symbolic. Scout, for example, like the familiar military scouts who were dispatched from the main body to gather information, is a seeker, scouting out new areas of experience. Additionally, Atticus's name is a reference to the district Attica of ancient Greece in which Athens was located. In some way Atticus's rational approach to life is similar to that of ancient philosophers, especially the Stoics: "The four cardinal virtues of the Stoic philosophy are wisdom, courage, justice and temperance.... [tags: Kill Mockingbird essays]
1076 words (3.1 pages)
- To Kill a Mockingbird was written by Harper Lee, the novel was published in 1960. The novel was written in a time of racial inequality in the United States. To Kill a Mockingbird is told in the perspective of a young girl named Scout, in the late 1920s and early 1930s, who is naïve and innocent. Scout matures throughout the novel through her father, Atticus, and she becomes more aware of the prejudice in Maycomb County. When Atticus loses his case, Scout and her brother, Jem, learn that blacks cannot have a fair trial, but their new found maturity has taught them not assume someone’s character without knowing them first, such as with Boo Radley.... [tags: Symbolism in To Kill a Mockingbird]
2301 words (6.6 pages)
- Symbolism and Allegory in To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee uses symbolism extensively throughout To Kill a Mockingbird,, and much of it refers to the problems of racism in the South during the early twentieth century. Harper Lee's effective use of racial symbolism and allegory can be seen by studying various examples from the book, namely the actions of the children, of the racist whites, and of Atticus Finch. One of the more effective allegories in the novel is the building of a snowman by Jem and Scout.... [tags: Kill Mockingbird essays]
3737 words (10.7 pages)
- To Kill a Mockingbird written by Harper Lee is novel set in a three year period through the ‘great depression’. Atticus Finch (Jem and scouts father) is originally portrayed as a friendly and understanding person, though when he attends court defending a ‘black man’ as his job, suddenly he and his family begin to suffer racial hatred from their community. The story features on the themes of racism, community morals and the realisation of certain truths whilst growing up. It is a fascinating novel with a great storyline full of drama and unexposed realities.... [tags: To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee]
1077 words (3.1 pages)
- Symbolism in To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee Harper Lee has used symbolism rather extensively throughout the novel and a great deal of it refers to the problems of racism in the South during the early twentieth century. Symbolism can be traced in almost every important episode or event which formulates the story line. Right from the beginning Scout's character and her outlook towards the behavior of the people in Maycomb county symbolizes a child's innate curiosity towards life.... [tags: To Kill a Mockingbird Essays]
720 words (2.1 pages)
- Many popular authors utilize symbolism in their writing to create an image without stating the obvious. Authors may use symbolism to bring a situation that may have been unnoticed to the reader’s attention. For example, Harper Lee’s novel To Kill a Mockingbird altogether symbolizes the Civil Rights Era. Lee emphasizes events that happened between the 1930’s and the 1960’s by elaborating on those events from a child’s perspective. Even though Scout Finch is the main character of the novel, the other characters also contribute to many aspects of the story through their symbolic representations.... [tags: To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee, Atticus Finch]
2421 words (6.9 pages)
- Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird is one of the most revered novels in modern history. It is a story which makes use of powerful language and plot devices, as well as its use of highly detailed character development, to convey a variety of themes to readers, with the most prevalent ones including racial and social injustice, social life, class, discrimination, human nature and personal morals and beliefs. The titular quote, “... it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird”, also presents a significant theme in the novel: innocence and morality.... [tags: To Kill a Mockingbird Essays]
1381 words (3.9 pages)
- The Significance of the Title To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee In this novel the most significant symbol is the mocking bird. A mocking bird is a type of Finch: a small, discrete bird with a beautiful song, which 'mocks' or imitates the other birds' song. One of the most explicit references made about mocking birds is that in chapter 10. Atticus is telling Scout and Jem how top use their shotguns for the first time, he says, 'Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit'em but remember it's a sign to kill a Mockingbird.' Harper Lee uses symbolism implicitly to liken mocking birds to certain characters and explicit references to describe the atmosphere cr... [tags: To Kill a Mockingbird Essays]
1088 words (3.1 pages)
The fire and Mrs Dubose's white camellias are not the only symbols of prejudice. Tim Johnson is another symbol of prejudice and his shooting by Atticus is also highly allegorical. Jem and Scout did not know their father was such a good shooter and they were very surprised to see him shooting: "With movements so swift they seemed simultaneous, Atticus's hand yanked a ball-tipped lever as he brought the gun to his shoulder. The rifle cracked. Tim Johnson leaped, flopped over and crumbled on the sidewalk in a brown-and-white heap. He didn't know what hit him" (102). Tim Johnson represents prejudice, and how, like a rabid dog , it spreads its disease throughout the town. Atticus Finch is seen as a hero for he kills racism and prejudice, not allowing it to spread any further. In a conversation with his brother Jack about the coming trial and how to "get Jem and Scout through it without bitterness, and most of all, without catching Maycomb's usual disease" (94), Atticus is the one who refers to people's prejudice as a 'disease'. He accepts the Robinson case in an effort to fight against that, even though he is sure to fail.
Symbolism is indeed used extensively in the novel To Kill a Mockingbird. The symbolism reveals the prejudice and narrow-mindedness of the citizens of Maycomb County, their fears and the immoral things they did. It also reveals an attempt to purify people from these feelings, by a hero figure, a model to the community, Atticus Finch, as well as his two children, who surely follow in his footsteps. The story ends with the reading of a book by Atticus, The Grey Ghost, another symbol perhaps for Boo Radley whose "face was as white as his hands and his grey eyes were so colourless" (276), a description fitting to one of a ghost. Before she falls asleep Scout describes the story which happens to be about someone falsely accused of doing something he never did, exactly like Tom Robinson and Boo Radley, the two mockingbirds of the story so wrongly treated by others. The closing of the novel with another symbol for the two victims of human malice suggests the power Harper Lee sees in symbolism, which carries the message better than words. At this point she seems to agree with J.B.S. Haldane, a British Scientist, who stated: "In fact, words are well adapted for description and the arousing of emotion, but for many kinds of precise thought other symbols are much better" (Columbia). Perhaps this is the reason Harper Lee chooses to declare her rejection of prejudice and racism through the use of symbols; because they are more effective than words.