In part one of 'To Kill A Mockingbird' (Mockingbird) Atticus tells Jem and Scout that "it's a sin to kill a mockingbird.
" The word "sin" suggests that it's a crime against God and alerts the reader to the importance of what Atticus is saying. It is Miss Maudie's further explanation, however, which enables us to link the mockingbird motif to 2 characters in the novel. According to Miss Maudie, mockingbirds "don't do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. " They simply make beautiful music for people to enjoy. They are innocent of wrongdoing (such as eating "up people's gardens").
Reading on through the novel, it therefore becomes obvious that the mockingbird is used asan analogy for Tom Robinson and for Boo Radley. Tom Robinson is a victim of racial prejudice; he ends up in court, fighting for his life, because he is accused of rape by Mayella Ewell. Twice during the court case, Lee makes it very specific that he is like a mockingbird. During his testimony, we hear about how often Tom Robinson tried to help Mayella with her chores. When asked why he was "so anxious to do that woman's chores", Tom replies, "Looked like she didn't have nobody to help her".Tom feels compassion for Mayella, he realises that she gets no help from her father or from the children.
Like a mockingbird, therefore, he tries to make life more pleasant for her. Tragically, this eventually leads to his death. He makes a major mistake in court when he says that he helped Mayella because he "felt right sorry for her, she seemed to try more'n the rest of 'em -". The dash here shows how quickly Mr Gilmer interrupts, in order to alert the jury to the impudence of Tom's reply.
He responds with "You felt sorry for her, you felt sorry for her? You, sorry and her are printed in italics to show that Mr Gilmer wants the jury to be outraged.He also uses simple clauses to get his message home. And succeeds. Lee writes "Below us, nobody liked Tom Robinson's answer. " "Nobody" is used to show that the jury and the onlookers are united and horrified by Tom daring to feel sorry for a white woman. It comes as no surprise, therefore, that Tom is found guilty.
The verdict is clearly foreshadowed, however, by Scout's reaction whilst waiting for the jury to return. She likens the atmosphere to "a cold February morning, when the mockingbirds were still.The reader remembers the incident of the mad dog, carefully placed before the trial in order to foreshadow later events. The dog is an analogy for racism; it is life-threatening because it is maddened by a disease which attacks the brain. Like prejudice.
It is only Atticus who can stand up to this danger and try to end it. Finally, Tom's similarity to the mockingbird is confirmed by Mr Underwood's editorial after his death. (It is no coincidence that Tom was shot). He likened it to "the senseless slaughter of songbirds".The sibilant sounds show his anger and his grief at the loss of an innocent life However, there is a second 'mockingbird' in the novel - Boo Radley. He, too, is the innocent victim of prejudice, so clearly Harper Lee wants the idea of the mockingbirds to be linked to the evils of prejudice.
Initially, Boo is described as "a malevolent phantom" because he has not been seen by Maycomb for at least 15 years. He is thus a "phantom" a ghost-like figure but one who is believed to be evil. As the novel progresses, though, he comes to the aid of Jem and Scout on a number of occasions.He places a blanket around Scout during the fire and he mends Jem's torn pants to try to keep him out of trouble. In a way, he "sings out" for them. It is noticeable that very often Lee directs our attention to the mockingbirds in the Radley tree.
In particular, on the night when Boo saves their lives, she emphasises that "a solitary mocker poured out his repertoire" in the Radley tree. "Solitary" mimics Boo's isolation but the song foreshadows how he will save them. Because Bob Ewell attacks and tries to kill the children, Boo kills him but the Sheriff, Heck Tate, refuses to charge Boo, saying "that's a sin.It would be a sin.
.. " The repetition of "sin" shows the passion of his feelings but also reminds us that it's "a sin to kill a mockingbird. " Even Scout acknowledges that arresting Boo would be "sort of like shootin' a mockingbird.
" Here, the mockingbird also becomes a symbol for law and justice. Tom was unjustly found guilty and unjustly shot. However, Boo receives justice; he killed Ewell to save the children. In 'To Kill A Mockingbird', Harper Lee uses the mockingbird to symbolise how innocent people can be destroyed by prejudice. However, it can also be seen as a sign of hope; that sometimes justice is done.