, Research Paper
Symbolism in To Kill a Mockingbird
In the novel To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee exhibited numerous examples of symbolism. Prejudice, being one of the main themes of the novel, it was also the main base of symbolism. The rabid, or mad dog, symbolized many things, the courage of Atticus being the central one. If you really think about it, the snowman that Jem built was in a way symbolizing the equality of blacks to whites. Lastly, the most apparent use of symbolism in the novel was the fact that it was a sin to kill a mockingbird. Using symbolism in the novel allowed for better understanding of the novel.
First, the mad dog was a symbol of the courage of Atticus. Although he has not fired a single shot in thirty years he was able to act courageous and kill the dog in one shot. This dog symbolized prejudice. In my opinion, the rabies that the dog had were infectious just like the prejudice that One-Shot Finch was against. Him shooting the dog, Tim Johnson, symbolized how he wanted to eradicate all kinds of discrimination from infecting the next generations in Maycomb and other places as well. One quote that I took from the book was Scout s description of the trial saying that 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.” This quote shows that even though Atticus had chosen to defend Tom Robinson, he knew that even if he did have the perfect aim at the accusation that Tom was guilty he also knew that his efforts were useless because his gun alone cannot kill prejudice.
During the two coldest weeks that Maycomb had had since 1885, Jem decided to build a snowman. This snowman was a great way for the author to symbolize the equality of blacks to whites. Although that winter was the coldest they had and the first time that they got snow, the amount of snow they got wasn t enough to build a snowman, so he decided to make a reinforcement of mud from his yard so that it looked like a snowman. Then he used the snow that he got from his yard and Miss Maudie s and covered up the black mud. The covering up of the black snowman with the white snow symbolized the equality of blacks and whites showing that color differences are only skin deep, and that under our skin we are all the same color.
Finally, this book s most remembered quote: “Shoot all the blue jays you want, if you can hit ‘em, but remember, it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird contains many symbols. Prejudiced people are like blue jays: raucous, intimidating, and pompous. On the other hand though, the mockingbirds sing pleasant and harmonious songs while harming no one. The mockingbird also symbolizes characters in the novel, which include Boo Radley and Tom Robinson. Boo Radley is a harmless and innocent man that just stays inside his home and bothers no one. The reason he might be staying inside is because he does not want to face the blue jays of the world. Tom Robinson is another mockingbird in the novel. He was an innocent black just trying to help someone. Instead of giving thanks to Tom, the blue jays, Mayella and Bob Ewell destroy his life. Regardless of the fact that he was like a mockingbird, harmless and innocent, he was shot inevitably because he lacked faith in the system after all the injustice that had been done to him.
Symbolizations using the rabid dog, the snowman built by Jem, and the mockingbird that represented many types of people was a great technique used by the author. These symbols allowed for easy reading of the novel and also made it a lot more interesting than it would have been otherwise.