The title of To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee holds much symbolism throughout the story, seeing as it is the central theme. Although it does not have any direct connections to the plot, it is the main cause for certain conflicts throughout the book.
In Chapter 10, Scout overhears Atticus tell Jem that it’s “a sin to kill a mockingbird” (Lee 119). Why is this? Miss Maudie later explains that “Mockingbirds don’t do one things but make music for us to enjoy. They don’t eat up people's gardens, don’t nest in corncribs, they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us” (Lee 119).
Miss Maudie is indirectly trying to tell Jem and Scout the moral theme of this adage: That mockingbirds are innocent, and so killing them is wrong. In the book, Lee uses the symbol of a mockingbird as a manifestation of innocence. The act of killing a mockingbird symbolizes the destruction of innocence, the act of evil ...view middle of the document...
Boo Radley is one of our largest mockingbirds yet: He has been shut away in his house, automatically creating rumors and ruining his social image. Many believe that he is a blood-thirsty, maniacal killer, but on the inside he is truly innocent and good. Dolphus Raymond, a man also misinterpreted, is shunned by the world because he lives in the company of blacks. Mr. Raymond is most often seen strolling around with a drink in a paper bag, in which back then would have been a polite way to drink alcoholic beverages. However, he is actually drinking soda (Coke), and uses the ploy as a reason for the many racist citizens of Maycomb to explain why he lives with blacks. Atticus is also a mockingbird, as the goodness of his heart is burdened in dealing with Bob Ewell, the lynching party, and the overall racist population of Maycomb. He is, as Miss Maudie said, one of the “men in this world who [was] born to do our unpleasant jobs for us” (Lee 288). Lastly, Tom Robinson, the black man accused of raping a white woman, is a mockingbird in the book that creates the main conflict. His true innocence and kindness is what leads him to help Mayella Ewell in her chores and tasks. But rather than being thanked for his good deeds, Tom is instead accused of rape and abuse, eventually leading to his death.
One last thing to take into notice- it is by no accident that Harper Lee gives Atticus the name of Finch. Finches, another species of small birds, are predominantly seed-eating songbirds. They are another synonymous example of innocence.
Overall, the theme of killing a mockingbird holds much prominence and meaning in the book. It is the misinterpretation of good people, scarred by the outside world. It shows the reality of hardships in the world, and in the book specifically, the good and bad of Maycomb’s population. Atticus Finch, Tom Robinson, and Boo Radley are just a few examples of mockingbirds in Harper Lee’s novel. In the end, this moral theme is one of the most important of all, symbolizing the corruption of honesty and innocence, the final, thin line where the good and bad meet.