In the work To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee, the symbol of a mocking bird is used to represent a person who is truly good at heart. Throughout the novel there are many mockingbirds who are persecuted for various acts against the societys prejudices, this is termed by Atticus in the novel as killing a mockingbird. The act of killing a mocking bird is representative of sin because it is bringing down a person who thinks about the needs of others rather than worrying about themselves.
The character Boo Radley is one of the mockingbirds that helps Jem and Scout throughout the story but his generosity is not discovered until the end. For example, returning home during a late night walk the children are attacked and Boo Radley saves them from Mr. Ewells vicious assault (264). This shows that he is willing to put his life in dangers way and to come out after years of hiding for the childrens sake. Boo is protective of the children because he has a secret love for them. Previously in the story the children mocked Boo, reenacting stories they have heard and their father, Atticus, questions their plays and Jem replies that, We werent makin fun of him (54). Boo is an instrumental character to the childrens world because of the great mystery that surrounds him and it fascinates them. The children disrespect Boo even though they dont know his tender loving heart and their judgment of him is based on rumors they have heard about him instead of their own personal experiences. The children, in a sense, are killing a mocking bird by ridiculing and bothering Boo, without even realizing the cruelty of their actions.
In this story, Tom Robison a Negro, is also portrayed as mockingbird. Tom Robison is accused of raping Miss Mayella Ewell when he was called inside to help her. The evidence in the trial leads to the conclusion that he is innocent, but a very prejudiced jury responds with a guilty verdict. The jury incarcerated an innocent man for a crime that he never committed. The jury leads this mockingbird to his death for helping an abused, young white, girl without any charge for the work. When asked at the trial how many times has he been at the Ewells and why had been so helpful he replies, Well, I, I went lots of times. It seemed like every time I passed by yonder, she'd have some little something for me to do, chopping kindling and toting water for her (194). This shows his willingness to help this girl who never received any help around the house. He is willing to volunteer his personal time, after a long days work, for a deprived girl that runs the entire household single-handedly and cannot physically do the more masculine jobs. Tom Robinson is an example of a mockingbird because he is judged harshly for daring to be a black gentlemen in a white-dominated society.
Atticus Finch is a character that is not persecuted because of his strong will, but he is a proctor and teacher of mockingbirds. Late in the novel after the trial the author explains this, Atticus had used every tool available to free men to save Tom Robinson, but in the secret courts of mens hearts Atticus had no case. Tom was a dead man the minute Mayella Ewell opened her mouth and screamed (241). This shows that Atticus was not as socially biased as many of the others in Maycomb County. In his heart Atticus wants to defend justice and do what is right no matter who he may be defending or what everyone else thinks of him. Atticus received comments directly and indirectly from certain individuals from the Maycomb community. He was persecuted just for willing to defend a Negro. His pure actions for defending an innocent black man were not politically correct so he was looked down upon. The fact that he was willing to stand up for the weak, not only for Tom, but also his children makes him a protector of mocking bird.
The ones who are persecuted for willing to be defenders of the weak, are the ones who should be in charge of the town not the folk who go along with the norms. In order for one to understand the meaning of a mockingbird they must learn to treat all people fairly with dignity and respect. Scout the young girl realizes this when she says Mr. Tate was right; Well itd be sort of like shottin a mockingbird, wouldnt it? (279) To kill a mockingbird would be to eliminate the free spirit of helping and the destruction of the pure joy of innocence, which is the greatest sin of all.