What Does Tom Symbolize In To Kill A Mockingbird

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Slaughtered Songbirds: Symbolism in To Kill a Mockingbird Mockingbirds are some of the most intelligent and beloved birds in America. Harper Lee’s novel To Kill a Mockingbird, set in 1930s Maycomb, Alabama, uses many recurring symbols to explore the topic of racial injustice. Described by Miss Maudie Atkinson as a gentle bird who does nothing but sing its heart out, the mockingbird is used throughout the story to symbolize innocence and goodness. With hearts full of kindness and humanity, Tom Robinson and Boo Radley are represented by the mockingbird. Tom, a black man wrongly indicted by the town of Maycomb, is a kind-hearted man who simply wanted to help those in need, and Boo Radley is the town’s recluse, isolated from society. It is through these two characters that Lee…show more content…
While explaining the guidelines, their father Atticus says to Jem, “Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit ‘em, but remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird”(119). Mockingbirds are beautiful, innocent creatures who harm nothing, therefore giving no reason to be killed. This idea of the mockingbird is later used to symbolize the innocence and goodness that exists in Maycomb. Mockingbirds are also present when Tim Johnson, the rabid dog, is roaming the streets of Maycomb. Scout describes the atmosphere of that morning, “Nothing is more deadly than a deserted, waiting street. The trees were still, the mockingbirds were silent, the carpenters at Miss Maudie’s house had vanished”(94). In this scene, the absence of the mockingbird holds much meaning. Since the mockingbirds, which represent goodness and innocence, are silent, only malevolence and evil can remain. The evil takes the form of the rabies disease, and by shooting the dog and stopping the spread of the illness, Atticus protects the town of Maycomb. The rabid dog scene is mentioned once again after the Scout has just broken up the lynching mob. She reflects on that night's events, “The memory of Atticus calmly folding
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