“Discuss the role of the mockingbird in the novel, both as a symbol and a metaphor.”
In many novels, there is clear recognition of the so-called “good” characters and the “bad” characters. In Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, particular characters exemplify innocence. This innocence is symbolised by a mockingbird. Throughout the novel there are events whereby the mockingbird occurs, both as a metaphor and a symbol of the story. “… they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.” These are the words of the Finches’ neighbour, Miss Maudie, who explains the symbol and significance of the mockingbird. The metaphorical mockingbirds who stand out in the novel are Atticus, Jem Finch and Tom Robinson. Their virtues stand out through their moralities and actions in difficult stages of the story. Atticus Finch is the most important mockingbird of the book. Calm and collected, he never responds with aggression. When Bob Ewell, his opponent in court, spits in his face, Atticus does not retaliate. As Scout narrates: “… Atticus didn’t bat an eye, just took out his handkerchief and wiped his face and stood there…”, while most people would react angrily. Atticus always follows his moral compass, even if this means that he and his family will suffer. When he takes on the case of Tom Robinson he knows that his community will turn against him, but he carries on regardless because he knows that it is the right thing to do. Scout questions why he is taking on the case if he knows he is going to lose, to which he replies: “Simply because we were licked a hundred years before we started is no reason for us not to try to win.” Atticus is an extraordinary person in Maycomb; although it is a racist town, he guides his children to become ethical and responsible citizens. He has principled views on what courage really means. When he reveals that he is an excellent shot, he remains modest about it– he feels that the ability to...
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