The Significance of the Title of To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
The title of this novel is 'To Kill a Mockingbird' and throughout the
book the word mockingbird appears several times. The mockingbird is
the most significant symbol in the novel. The motif of the story is
the innocent creature of the mockingbird. What is a mockingbird? A
mockingbird is a type of finch. It is a small plain bird and has a
beautiful song. It got its name because its beautiful sing 'mocks'
The mockingbird idea first comes about in chapter 10,when Atticus is
telling the children how to use their shotguns. He tells them:
"Shoot all the blue jays you want, if you can hit 'em. But remember
it's a sin to kill a mockingbird."
It was very unusual for Atticus to say something like this, as he
never tells Scout or Jem that anything is a 'sin'. This makes Scout a
bit surprised and so Miss Maudie explains that it is because
mockingbirds are neither harmful nor destructive and only make nice
music for people to enjoy. Here is what she said:
"Mockingbirds don't do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. They
don't eat up peoples gardens, don't nest in corncribs, they don't do
one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That's why it's a sin to
kill a mockingbird."
In chapter 10, Tim Johnson the rabid dog is slowly walking up the road
and all the people of Maycomb are waiting for him to appear, waiting
for what is about to happen. The mockingbird idea comes up when it
'The trees were still, the mockingbirds were silent, the carpenters at
Miss Maudie's house had vanished.'
I think that the mockingbirds in this situation are all of the
innocent people of Maycomb waiting for this rabid dog (Tim) to come up
the road. They haven't done anything wrong and are scared that they
may get hurt or something bad may happen when the dog appears.
Another time the mockingbird idea comes up is in chapter 21,when
everyone is in the court room waiting for the verdict on whether Tom
Robinson has been found guilty or not. Scout describes the atmosphere
in the courtroom like this:
'The feeling grew until the atmosphere in the court-room was exactly
the same as a cold February morning, when the mockingbirds were still
and the carpenters had stopped hammering on miss Maudie's new house.'
I think that when Scout talks about the atmosphere being like a cold
February morning she is describing the tension in the room. When
everyone is still and silent. When Scout says that the mockingbirds
were still I think that she was referring to Atticus and Tom Robinson.
I think this because Tom is waiting to see if he has been found guilty
or not and Atticus is waiting to see if he has won his case. They are
both deadly still and anxious to hear the verdict. They have been
regarded as mockingbirds...