To Kill a Mockingbird

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In To Kill a Mockingbird, a novel by Harper Lee, the symbols of the mockingbird and the snowman helped to develop the underlying idea of social and racial prejudice in the text. This idea showed how prejudice can become ingrained within a community and how that can affect innocent people subsequently presenting the idea of innocence.

Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird is the story of how prejudice, when ingrained within a person, can cloud and impair their way of thinking. This novel is set in the mid 1930’s in the fictional town of Maycomb. This was an era where racial prejudice was high and ‘blacks’ were being treated unfairly as they were seen as a symbol of defeat of the American Civil War which occurred 80 years previously. Because of this prejudice, segregation existed between white and black people, restricting them from utilising the same public facilities.

In the novel, Harper Lee uses the mockingbird as a symbol to help develop the main ideas of prejudice and innocence. Miss Maudie explains to Scout, the protagonist of this novel who narrates as a retrospect of her life, that mockingbirds are creatures that do not harm people “but sing their hearts out” therefore they come to represent innocents destroyed by evil. This is why “it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird”. The mockingbird is an important symbol as it helped to highlight the ideas of prejudice and innocence. Throughout the novel, many characters can be identified as mockingbirds, the main ones seen thorough the parallel stories of Boo Radley and Tom Robinson who are both seen as mockingbirds as they are innocent and are the victims of other people’s prejudices. Boo Radley is a recluse and is seen by Maycomb as a “scary, ghostly malevolent phantom” and consequently gains the nickname ‘Boo’ Radley, his real name being Arthur. He is a mockingbird as he has harmed no one; instead he left presents for Jem and Scout to find and eventually saves them from Bob Ewell. Boo has been ruined because of his...
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