Remember, it's a sin to kill a mockingbird.
These words, spoken by Atticus are the central theme of the novel, and
the source of the novel's title. Miss Maudie further elaborates these
words, by saying; "Mockingbirds don't do one thing but sing out their
hearts for us. That's why it's a sin to kill a mockingbird." It is a
very cruel thing indeed to kill, or even harm something that does not
harm us; rather is a source of benefit for us, like these
mockingbirds, that don't 'eat up peoples gardens, don't nest in
corncribs, but make music for us to enjoy."
In the novel we can identify several people as mockingbirds: good,
innocent people who have been punished due to no fault of their own.
One of these is no doubt Boo Radley– just as mockingbirds do not harm
people, but "only sing their hearts out for us," in the same way Boo
Radley does not harm anyone, rather he leaves little presents for Jem
and Scout in the knothole, covers Scout with a blanket when she is
shivering with cold during the fire, and when the time comes, he even
saves the children from Bob Ewell when he tries to kill them on the
night of Halloween. But even though he has never tried to harm the
children, even though he is causing no harm to anyone, he is not
allowed to communicate with them in his own childlike fashion; the
knothole in which he would leave the little presents is blocked up by
his elder brother, Nathan Radley. He has been trapped in his own house
for over fifteen years; he is not allowed to come out, just because he
indulged in a little mischief years ago.
The connection between Boo Radley and a mockingbird is made very
clear, when Scout says that exposing Boo Radley, making his rescue of
the children public 'would be like shooting a mockingbird', because
you would be hurting him by depriving him of his privacy and bringing
him into the limelight when he prefers to keep to himself. Even Boo
Radley's description when Scout first lays her eyes upon him, is
likened to a mockingbird, with feathery hair,...