Honors English 10
18 November 2012
Response to Literature
“The free bird thinks of another breeze….a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams…” The two literary works “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” by Maya Angelou and Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” can be seen as mockingbirds that have flown over fields of prejudice and repeat what they have seen for all to hear. Jem Finch, a young boy and lawyer’s son from “To Kill a Mockingbird” clearly symbolizes a mockingbird because of his youth and innocence, and because of his innocence he cannot fully understand the racism in the story. Jem also has many similarities to the caged and free birds in “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings”, whether it be Jem’s innocence as a child or his realization of the reality of the world after watching a lawsuit of black versus white he always resembles one of the birds.
Throughout “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” the caged bird is always holding resentment towards something. In “To Kill a Mockingbird” Jem starts to hold resentment after he watches his father’s case of black versus white during the 1930s. “But a bird that stalks down his narrow cage can seldom see through his bars of rage.”(Angelou, 6-9) In this example the caged bird is holding resentment against the free bird, a free bird in the poem, because the free bird never listens to the songs, or cries for help of the caged bird. “It was Jem’s turn to cry. His face was streaked with angry tears as we made our way through the cheering crowd. ‘It ain’t right,’ he muttered, all the way to the corner of the square where we found Atticus waiting.”(Lee, pg. 284) After the case, Jem realizes that some things are not the way they should be in the world. He feels the need to change these things but knows no one will listen to him because he is a boy. Jem then grows out of his innocence and builds a bit of resentment towards the people who have the ability to change the morally wrong ideas, but do...