What a Mockingbird Is in To Kill A Mockingbird Essay Example


What is a mockingbird? As a type of songbird, many believe the mockingbird symbolizes joyfulness, intelligence, and protection. This songbird listens first, then responds, which is a lesson for everyone to learn. However, in Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, innocence serves as the main point of symbolism. Harper Lee walks the reader through the story, using characters to portray the symbol of a mockingbird. In Atticus’s definition, a mockingbird serves as something that does no harm and brings joy to others. In this regard, Jem Finch, Arthur Radley, and Tom Robinson symbolize the mockingbird within the book.

Jem Finch serves as a mockingbird, beginning the story as an innocent child but losing his innocence as prejudice events unfold throughout the book. When Scout and Jem slept on the patio, Jem told Scout to leave a rolly polly alone, “Because they don’t bother you...”(273). The author uses this as an example to show Jem’s innocence in not wanting to harm something without cause, and how he still has hope in the world. Jem’s innocent view of the world causes him to believe his father will win Tom Robinson’s trial. However, Jem continued to lose bits of his innocence and faith in humanity throughout the negative events of the trial. Jem held onto the last bit of innocence, believing that the truth would win in the end. When Jem realizes Tom lost his trial, a mockingbird died. The author explained, “It was Jem’s turn to cry. His face streaked with angry tears as we made our way through the cheerful crowd. ‘It ain’t right,’ he muttered...”(242). All the evidence pointed to Tom Robinson’s innocence, but the jury still found Tom guilty, which served as a concept difficult for Jem to understand. Jem realized he misplaced his faith in the decency of humanity and their ability to deliver proper justice. Through the trial, Jem resembles a mockingbird because of his forced change from an innocent child to a scarred young man.

Arthur Radley symbolized a mockingbird many times within the book through authorial selection and when compared to other characters.. Outside Mrs. Maudie’s burning house, Arthur put a blanket on Scout, in which the author used to symbolize the mockingbird. Scout at first did not realize who put the blanket on her. When she asked who, Atticus replied, “Boo Radley. You were so busy looking at the fire you didn’t know it when he put the blanket around you”(72). The author depicts Arthur as misunderstood and lonely. Even though society misjudged Arthur, he continued to act innocent and sweet. Society saw him as a violent man, although he only had good intentions. As the story progresses, Jem and Scout begin to see Arthur for who he truly is. the author also portrayed Arthur as a mockingbird when compared to Bob Ewell. Arthur killed Bob Ewell, purely by accident, instead of aggression. His intentions were pure, as the lives of Jem and Scout were saved through his actions. The sheriff protected Arthur from the law because of his pure intentions. In conversation with Atticus, Sheriff Tate claimed, “Bob Ewell fell on his knife - he killed himself.” Arthur Radley served as a true Mockingbird, portraying the symbol of a mockingbird many ways throughout the novel.

Tom Robinson

The author uses Tom Robinson as an example of a mockingbird through his innocence and comparing him to Arthur Radley. Tom never made trouble, nor intended to do anything evil. Miss Maudie once claimed, “mockingbirds don't do one thing but…sing their hearts out for us.”  The arthur portrayed Tom with an innocent and kind heart. Tom only wanted to conduct himself in a righteous manner, which left him as an easy target to be taken advantage of when he assisted Mayella Ewell with chores. The false accusation brought against Tom, while attempting to help others, demonstrates the author's portrayal of him as a mockingbird. Another way the author characterizes Tom as a symbol of a mockingbird is when comparing him to Arthur Radley. Both characters were innocent, but looked down upon by the world. The author used these characters to portray the symbol of the mockingbird, seeing as how neither of them had any bad intentions. Both Arthur and Tom were targeted by society for their differences. Tom continued to be ridiculed by the citizens of Maycomb, and the justice system for being an African American man in a white community. The people also misunderstood Arthur, therefore the citizens of Maycomb ridiculed him for his reclusive personality. Tom Robinson certainly seemed certainlycertainlycertainlycertainlyas a mockingbird with his innocence, and when compared with Arthur Radley.

Jem Finch, Arthur Radley, and Tom Robinson portrayed the symbol of a mockingbird throughout the book. Through his care for others, Jem showed his innocence, as well as Arthur and Tom, who proved themselves through their kind hearts and gestures, even though they were ridiculed by society. Innocent people continue to experience unfair treatment in everyday scenarios. Unjust treatment to others occurs quite often everywhere around the world. However, the world changes with time, and society continues systemic improvement towards accepting all.

 

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