Symbolism in TKAM


The mockingbird motif:

  • most salient symbol in the novel
  • repeated image of an innocence cretaure makes it a strong motif
  • appears in chapter 10 - 'shoot all the bluejays you want if you can hi em, but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird' (pg 96). 
  • scout is surprised to hear a nonjudgemental atticus calling anything a sin
  • miss maudie explains that they are neither harmful nor destructive and only make nice music for people to enjoy 
  • the symbol is kept alive through the narrative, continually reminding us of the themes it is associated with 
  • it is refered to when:
  • after the mad dog incident (chapter 10) - courage
  • when waiting for the jury's verdict (chapter 21) - prejudice
  • in Mr Underwood's article about Tom's death (chapter 25) - prejudice 
  • 'the trees were still, the mockingbirds were silent' - represent and forershadows the dog's fate in chapter 10. innocent about to be silenced. symbolic of something bad going to happen in maycomb. the mockingbirds are used to create suspense
  • at tense moments, the mockingbirds are refered to as being silent
  • in moments of descriptive beauty the mockingbird is often allueded to, lurking somewhere in the background
  • harper lee invits the reader to consider the 'mockingbird' in all its associations: the children mock Boo's life as they make fun of and imitate it; Mayella accuses Atticus of mocking her; the trail is a mockery of justice
  • tom is clearly associated with the symbol
  • connection with boo radley is not made clear until scout recognises in chapter 30 that bringing boo into the public gaze would be like shooting a mockingbird
  • positioning the symbol that has been a motif throughout right at the end of the novel emphasises that the author is trying to make an important, positive point 
  • value of the mockingbird has to be appreciated
  • tom and boo are arguably the


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