TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD ESSAY
To Kill a Mockingbird, the novel written by Harper Lee, focuses on the theme of a mockingbird and compares it to the characters, Boo Radley and Tom Robinson. A mockingbird is a songbird which gives nothing but music, expects nothing in return, is innocent and doesnt harm anyone in anyway but just likes to give music. The title To Kill a Mockingbird carries a great deal of symbolism in this book. In this story of innocents that are destroyed by evil, the mockingbird represents the idea of innocence. To kill a mockingbird is to destroy innocence. Throughout the book, character like Tom Robinson, Boo Radley, Jem and Mr. Raymond can be likened to mockingbirds. They are innocents that have been hurt or destroyed through contact with evil. The connection between the title and its main theme is made clear many times throughout the novel. For example, after Tom Robinson is shot, Mr Underwood compares his death to the senseless slaughter of songbirds, and at the end Scout thinks that hurting Boo Radley would be like shootin a mockingbird. Lee Harper continually uses the theme around the threat that hatred, prejudice, and ignorance pose to the innocent. Characters such as Tom Robinson and Boo Radley are not prepared for the evil that they encounter, and, as a result, they are destroyed.
Harper has used the theme of a mockingbird on the character Arthur Boo Radley. Boo is a man who is a recluse and is a prisoner in his own home because he stabbed his own father in the leg with scissors. Jean Louise Scout Finch and her brother Jeremy Jem Finch are very curious about Boo. Because no one had ever seen Boo, a lot of rumors went around that he was a frightening man. Boo was about six-and-a-half feet tall, judging from his tracks; he dined on raw squirrels and any cats he could catch, that's why his hands were bloodstained if you ate an animal raw, you could never wash the blood off. There was a long jagged scar that ran across his face; what teeth he had were yellow and rotten; his eyes popped, and he drooled most of the time. Boo is a powerful symbol of goodness covered in an initial cloud of creepiness. Boo Radley, is like a mockingbird because just as mockingbirds do not harm people but only sing their hearts out for us, Boo does not harm anyone, instead, he leaves Jem and Scout presents, covers Scout with a blanket during the fire, and eventually saves the children from Bob Ewell. Despite the pureness of his heart, however, Boo has been damaged by an abusive father. Boo, an intelligent child emotionally damaged by his cruel father, provides an example of the threat that evil has to innocence and goodness.
Tom Robinson was accused of raping Bob Ewell's daughter Mayella. Tom Robinson is a black man who is defending himself against white people to win the case. Atticus has taken on the case to defend Tom because he treats everyone as equals and it was important for his self-esteem. As Atticus was talking to Scout, she asked him if they were going to win the case and he responded with a no. She then asked well then why are you defending Tom and Atticus said, " Simply because we were licked a hundred years before we started is no reason for us not to try to win." (Pg. 80) Atticus was trying to explain to his daughter that because he was a white man defending a black man that they weren't going to win. Before they even started the trial the whites have already won. It was so inconsiderate of Bob to lie to everyone in Maycomb about Tom Robinson raping his daughter. Everyone knew it was Bob that raped her, but because Tom was black he was punished. Bob went as far as causing a man's death just to get his own way.
Like Boo Radley, Tom Robinson is characterized by what the people of Maycomb county say about him. After being accused of rape, most of the people see him as an evil man. During the trial when Bob Ewell testifies, he points to Tom Robinson and says, "I seen that black nigger yonder ruttin' on my Mayella." (pg. 173) The evidence Atticus brought to court proved Tom innocent. But because this story takes place in the south where many people are racist he was accused of the crime. Tom had no chance because of the color of his skin. Both of these characters were seen for things on the outside and not for who they were.
Tom Robinson Resemble a Mocking bird because of his innocent that he never rapes the woman. The jurors most likely said he was guilty even though, the evidence the Atticus stated said that he was guilty because he was a black man and there probably would have been a riot because people hated blacks that bad. After Tom is proven guilty and is sentenced the electric chair he tried to escape. During his attempt in escaping from prison the guards shoot him when they see him trying to hop the fence. After people found out about his death Mr. Underwood wrote in an editorial stating that he simply figured it was a sin to kill cripples, be they standing, sitting, or escaping. He likened Toms death to the senseless slaughter of songbirds by hunters and children (241).
The character of Tom Robinson is that of yet another unjustly treated "mockingbird." It is here that the significance of the title "To Kill A Mockingbird" directly correlates. Tom Robinson is an innocent man, maligned for the simple reason that he is black. Tom stands accused of raping Mayella Ewell, a white woman, in a very racist, southern town. Tom is not guilty of this crime, but is condemned by the bigots of Maycomb because they are afraid to stand up for what is right.
Tom Robinson is obliged to help Mayella Ewell with her chores, not because she is white, but because he is a genuinely kind person. Tom is not however, able to yield to Mayella's affections for him because he knows, being a black man, what the ramifications of being with a white woman could be. In keeping with the theme of the benevolent mockingbird, Tom does not make any effort to physically push Mayella away for her approaches, but rather chooses to flee in the midst of the crisis, not harming Mayella or Bob Ewell in any way. By running away from the seen, as opposed to staying and asserting himself, Tom makes it possible for the Ewells to make whatever claims they wish in court. It is ultimately Tom's ignorance as to how to handle the situation at the Ewell's, as well as his position as a black man in the South, which lead to his conviction, as well as his demise.
After being killed attempting to flee from the confines of prison life, Tom, in an editorial by Mr. Underwood, is compared to, "a harmless songbird killed by senseless hunters." Here again, the image of the Mockingbird is raised; sighting another individual's discontent with the treatment of Tom by the town of Maycomb. Tom never stands a chance of winning his case because, as Atticus tells Scout and Jem, "The people of Maycomb never serve on juries for two reasons. First, they are not interested. Second, they are afraid that they might hurt someone's feelings if they have to pass a judgment involving two townspeople." In this particular case, the decision is made obvious (a "black and white" decision) because the conflict is between a white family and a black man. Rather than offend anyone, the whites of Maycomb take the easy way out, and in the process, kill a mockingbird.
Both Boo Radley and Tom Robinson are misunderstood by the people of Maycomb. They are both simple creatures, content to live lifestyles which do not revolve around the stereotypes of Maycomb. Because they are different and people do not know them for who they truly are, they are unjustly persecuted and maligned. When Scout returns from the Radley house at the end of the novel, she tells Atticus that, "He (Boo) was real nice." Atticus responds, "Most people are, when you finally see them." Had the attitudes of the people of Maycomb been as open as those of Scout and Atticus, there would no doubt be many more Mockingbirds enlightening Maycomb, and far fewer sinners destroying the town.
To the people of Maycomb County, Tom Robinson is just a "sorry nigger," who committed an unthinkable crime. Tom represents the black race in American society. He is a victim of racism, which was the major controversy in our culture during that time. Like Boo Radley, Tom Robinson is characterized by what the people of Maycomb say about him. And after being accused of rape, many people see him as a beast.
In this novel Harper Lee uses a lot of symbolism that has to do with racism in the South at that time. The mockingbird is a symbol for two of the characters in this novel: Tom Robinson and Boo Radly. The mockingbird symbolizes these two characters because it does not have its own song. The blue Jay is loud and obnoxious: the mockingbird only sings other birds' songs. Because the mockingbird does not sing its own song, we characterize it by what the other birds' sing. We see the mockingbird through other birds.
Most important, Miss Maudie explains to Scout: Mockingbirds dont do one thing but . . . sing their hearts out for us. Thats why its a sin to kill a mockingbird. Despite the pain that Boo has suffered, the purity of his heart rules his interaction with the children. In saving Jem and Scout from Bob Ewell, Boo proves the ultimate symbol of good. The most important theme of To Kill a Mockingbird is the books exploration of the moral nature of human beingsthat is, whether people are essentially good or essentially evil.