Mockingbird theme: The Mockingbird motif

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To Kill a Mockingbird is a story of innocents destroyed by evil, and the “mockingbird” comes to represent the idea of innocence.

Thus, to kill a mockingbird is to destroy innocence.

Miss Maudie explains to Scout: "Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but . . . sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird."

Characters who are "mockingbirds"

  • Boo Radley; Scout thinks that hurting Boo Radley would be like “shootin’ a mockingbird.” Thus the mockingbird has been used to symbolize the good and the harmless things in this world which should not be abused.
  • Jem; stops Scout from killing a roly-poly because it never did anything to bother her. "Don't do that, Scout. Set him out on the back steps."
  • Tom Robinson; he is a harmless individual,


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