The Symbol of the Mockingbird Lies at the Heart of Harper Lee's Novel to Kill a Mockingbird. Discuss.

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Mockingbird's are not only symbols of innocence; they are also symbols of happiness and to kill them is evil. This concept, the senseless persecution of an innocent individual, is central to Harper Lee's novel. Boo Radley and Tom Robinson are both mockingbird figures, innocent yet condemned through the prejudices of society. The symbol of the mockingbird, with its associated ideas of a fragile, albeit beautiful innocence appears when Atticus tells Jem and Scout they may shoot all the bluejays they want, "but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird". This is the first time Scout has ever heard Atticus say it was a sin to do something. The full significance of this remark is explained to Scout by Miss Maudie as she explains that mockingbirds "do nothing but sing their hearts out for us", making music for the enjoyment of everyone in Maycomb. They represent a type of gentle and harmless creature. Throughout the text, Lee reiterates that to kill a mockingbird would be wicked and spiteful, a senseless and pointless act of destruction. Boo Radley symbolises a beautiful, but tortured mockingbird that is misunderstood and ostracised by both his family and the wider community. He is kept as a prisoner in his own home, kept in confinement by his god-fearing Baptist family. Despite this treatment Boo remains gentle and harmless. However, people tell stories about how he eats squirrels and cats and poisons the pecan nuts in the school yard. To the community Boo is a "malevolent phantom". Gradually Scout and Jem begin to see things from Boo's perspective. Like the mockingbird Boo gives pleasure and comfort: for example, the gifts in the tree, the blanket placed around their shoulders as they watch Miss Maudie's home go up in flames. Finally, he saves Scout and Jem's lives. In turn, Scout realises to drag Boo into the limelight would be like "shootin' a mockingbird" and a cruel betrayal of all the inherent goodness Boo symbolises as a mockingbird. The mockingbird symbol also...
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