Rabid Dogs and Hybrid Snowmen: Symbolism in to Kill a Mockingbird

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The plots and themes of this classic American literature have come under consideration and review many times, but not enough readers take notice to all of the metaphors and symbolism that are intertwined with the text. While To Kill a Mockingbird has many values of equality on the surface, the hidden meanings and symbolism allow it to take a deeper stance than one might notice right away. A few notable examples are the encounter with the rabid dog, the mud-and-snow man, Atticus’s light at the prison house, and, of course, the references to mockingbirds.

The rabid dog, a threat to the town of Maycomb, wandered down the street, nobody daring to confront it but Atticus. Even Heck Tate, the town sheriff, hadn’t the courage to take the shot. Clearly, this scene goes deeper than what is on the surface. Atticus was the only one brave enough to pull the trigger, but he was also the only one brave enough to go against the general bigotry of the town as well. Like the poison of prejudice, the dog walked freely down the street in its own twisted fashion. To everyone, the dog apparently seemed unstoppable. Furthermore, this symbolic language also explains the later statement (said as the jury reentered the courthouse) “it was like watching Atticus walk into the street, raise a rifle to his shoulder and pull the trigger, but watching all the time knowing that the gun was empty. (Lee 211)”

The mud-and-snow man and ensuing fire could also symbolize the town’s racism. Jem decision to build the basic snowman out of dirt, and then add the details with snow is representative of his sense of equality. At first, the snowman was all black with dirt, but by also adding the white snow, Jem’s “morphodite” turned out to look just like the man he was portraying; Mr. Avery - something nearly unachievable using only one. This could symbolize Jem’s impartiality, as most children would never think of using dirt in a snowman. Atticus might have noticed this as well, bringing him what, in...
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