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To Kill a Mockingbird – Symbolism Paper

Essay Topic:
The characters in To Kill a Mockingbird portray stereotypes and classic roles. Scout is the epitome of an innocent child, and through her eyes we see events unfold that change her status and broaden her awareness of the world around her. Due to her innocence in the beginning of the novel, we have to view her as an unreliable narrator because her views on the situations in the novel are somewhat skewed by her inexperience with the evils in the world. Bob Ewell symbolizes the evils of racism. He is uneducated, poor, and rude. He has an abusive parenting style and an adamant distrust of outsiders.

His feelings toward Tom Robinson are misdirected as a result of his anger at Mayella for kissing a black man. His attempt to attack Scout after the school pageant shows that he is absolutely evil, because he has already destroyed one innocent life and is ready to take another simply for the sake of saving his pride. Atticus symbolizes logical thinking; he is able to act on the right thing while still trying to keep the peace in the small town he loves. His upstanding morality is characterized by a lack of pride, in stark contrast to Bob Ewell (we see this when his own children don’t even know he’s a perfect shot, for example).

As he instructs Scout and Jem on the proper ways to behave, he symbolizes a teacher for all of the novel’s readers as well. Walter Cunningham, Sr. can be used to symbolize the possibility of change. Mr. Cunningham’s situation isn’t all that different from Bob Ewell’s; the main difference is that Ewell seems content to take handouts while Cunningham works for everything he has, even if it isn’t much. Cunningham is a visible presence in the lynch mob that visits Tom Robinson in jail, but his conversation with Scout marks a turning point.

If he is willing to see beyond his own hatred and listen to the voice of innocence and reason, perhaps Ms. Lee used him as a symbolic example to the rest of us that such a thing could be possible outside of Maycomb, too. A symbol is something that is used to represent something else. It can be simple, like a logo being used to represent a company. In literature, symbols can be objects, characters, ideas, or even colors that are used to represent larger concepts. Harper Lee’s novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, is full of symbols.

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Each symbol has a deeper meaning that leads the reader to understand the greater themes of the novel. The Mockingbird The mockingbird is one of the most obvious symbols in the novel, mainly because it’s in the title and there’s usually a picture of a mockingbird on the cover. In the novel, Scout and Jem learn that it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird, because they don’t do anything to harm other creatures and therefore should never be harmed. In the novel, several characters can be symbolic mockingbirds. Surely Tom Robinson, accused of a crime he didn’t truly commit, can be the top on that list.

Tom’s innocence stems from the fact that he tried to help a fellow human being and ended up losing his life over it, all due to circumstances outside of his control (like being black). Jem and Scout are also mockingbirds in the novel, in that they lose some of their innocence due to their exposure to the evil in the world. Throughout the course of the novel, they learn about cruelties in life: from Tom’s trial to Dolphus Raymond’s essential exile from white society to the incidents with Bob Ewell toward the end of the novel. Ewell’s attempt at killing the children is one more example of their mockingbird status as well.

Finally, Boo Radley is a mockingbird in this novel. Though he had some not-so-innocent times in his past (like stabbing his father with a pair of scissors or running around town with a “bad crowd”), the imprisonment he has lived with for years under the hands of his parents and brother gives him mockingbird status in the novel. The way he has become a town ghost story also shows the cruelty he faces from the people of Maycomb, whether they mean to be cruel or not. Boo Radley Aside from being a mockingbird character, Boo Radley also shows the reader how Scout grows up throughout the novel (and, by some extension, Jem as well).

In the beginning, the kids all like to play Boo Radley games, pretending to be him or telling scary stories about him. As they progress throughout the novel, they begin to discover that he might not be the town spook they fear he is. In the end, they realize that he is a caring, sensitive man who has done them a hero’s service. This growing understanding of Boo Radley is symbolic of the overall maturity that Scout and Jem experience in the novel. In the book, To Kill a Mockingbird, a person who shows symbolism is Atticus Finch. An object or place that shows symbolism would be the tree outside of the Radley’s house.

Atticus Finch shows symbolism because he is seen as a hero when he kills the rabid dog. Atticus is a father in that he shows love to his children. He is probably the only lawyer in Maycomb that would represent a black man. Atticus always tells his children that shooting a mockingbird is a sin because they don’t do any harm. They are innocent creatures that make music. The snowman, the fire in Miss Maudie Atkinson’s house, and the mockingbird are all examples of symbolism. The snowman that Jem and Scout made in front of Miss Maudie Atkinson’s house one winter was an example of symbolism.

Their was not enough snow for the snowman so Jem used dirt for the foundation and then covered it with the snow that they did have. The snowman is symbolic in that Jem is trying to cover up the black man and showing that he is the same as the white man. The fire in Miss Maudie Atkinson’s house shows symbolism in that it shows the prejudice of Maycomb. The fire melted the snow from the snowman and left nothing but mud. The fire also shows that blacks and whites are nothing alike. The mockingbird shows symbolism because the mockingbird is innocent and all they do is sing beautiful songs.

Killing a mockingbird is a sin. In the novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, Atticus Finch says to his children “As you grow older, you’ll see white men cheat black men every day of your life, but let me tell you something and don’t you forget it – whenever a white man does that to a black man, no matter who he is, how rich he is, or how fine a family he comes from, that white man is trash. ” That statement is similar to what he says to his kids about killing a mockingbird. The mockingbird symbolizes underprivileged black people. They are innocent and never would harm anyone just like the mockingbird.

Boo Radley is also innocent and would never harm anyone therefore the mockingbird also symbolizes him. Boo Radley never comes out because he does not want to face the prejudice and corrupt world. The symbolism reveals the prejudice of the citizens of Maycomb, the fears they have, and all of the dishonest things they do. It also reveals an attempt to get rid of these feeling in Maycomb by a hero to the community, Atticus Finch and his children who will follow in his footsteps. Symbolism makes this novel so appropriate. Symbolism is basically what the book is about. If this book did not have any type of symbolism it wouldn’t be complete.

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