To Kill a Mockingbird Loss of Innocence
How are birds represented in society? Eagles represent strength. Parrots represent intelligence. How about a mockingbird? A mockingbird represents the beauty of song and intelligence. In the book “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee, a mockingbird represents innocence. It represents those who are innocent and helpful but are put down by evil. It is a sin to kill a mockingbird because they do not harm us, but only create beautiful songs for us. The theme of the mockingbird is represented through characters like Tom Robinson, Arthur “Boo” Radley, Jem, and Scout.
Tom Robinson portrays a mockingbird perfectly in this book. Tom Robinson is a poor black, innocent man who was a victim of society’s discrimination and racism. He was a kind man that always tried to help and never harmed anyone. His intentions were innocent and good. In that way much like a mockingbird which only sings beautiful songs. Tom Robinson was an innocent man judged for the color of his skin and not his character. He is accused of raping a white woman, but he is innocent. His trial highlights the issues of racism and injustice. Tom was shot 17 times when he tried to run away. Tom is ‘’always forgotten’’ because he is a Negro. Atticus stated, ‘’As you grow older, you’ll see white men cheat black men everyday of your life, but let me tell you something and you don’t forget it-whenever a white man does that to a black man, no matter who he is, how rich he is, or how fine a family he comes from, that white man is trash.’’ Tom is treated unfair in the courtroom and is accused and convicted of a crime he didn’t commit.
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The factual evidence that Atticus presented did not matter. A white man’s word will always win over a black man’s in the time of the 1930’s. Tom is killed, alongside all sense of fairness, justice and innocence. Tom represents a mockingbird because he is physically and mentally destroyed because of his skin color. He is innocent, but no one treats him fairly. His innocence is killed by hate and prejudice. Innocence should not be killed because it provides much needed kindness to the world. It is similar to a mockingbird that provides the world with music.
The characters Scout and Jem also symbolize a mockingbird. Scout and Jem are the two innocent children with pure hearts of Atticus Finch. When Scout and Jem are followed by a stalker on their way home on Halloween night and are blamed for the death of Bob Ewell. Atticus has a hard time believing their side of the story. Out of all people, Atticus should believe Scout and Jem because he raised them as kind and honest kids. This shows how Jem and Scout are falsely accused when they didn’t commit the crime and were the victims. Another time they were falsely accused was when Calpurnia took them to her black church. Lula, who attended the church, displayed prejudice toward them. She told them, ‘’You ain’t got no business bringin white chillun here-they got their church, we got our’n.’’(Lee 158 ) Scout and Jem were judged by the color of their skin and were discriminated against even though they were innocent. Lula saw them as two white people who discriminate against blacks. Scout and Jem also portray a mockingbird because they are the children of Atticus.
Atticus is the lawyer that defends Tom Robinson in trial. They are treated like outsiders of the town because of their fathers actions. The town see them as turning against their ‘’own.’’ They are constantly being called names. Although it is not Jem and Scout who are defending Tom Robinson, they are still being prejudiced. Jem and Scout were not prepared for the evil they experienced and were damaged. Their faith in humans and sense of justice was tarnished. As the novel progresses, due to education and influence of their father’s lessons, their faith and hope in humanity evolves and matures. They are able to realize that people are both good and bad and to view life within people’s perspective. The children lose their innocence , but it evolves into a greater sense of compassion and hope for humanity. Arthur “Boo” Radley also represents a mockingbird in this story. His character fully captures the theme of a mockingbird. Boo is discriminated and mocked by the people of Maycomb.
The people are prejudiced and view themselves as superior beings. Boo is described as someone who never stepped out of his house. He is described as a tall man with yellow rotten teeth, and a scar across his face. “ He dined on raw squirrels and any cats he could catch, that’s why his hands were bloodstained.” (Lee 16 ) The citizens of Maycomb would spread rumors about him because they did not know him. He was not like them and that is also why they were afraid of him. Boo was actually a kind and helpful person and leaves Jem small gifts in the treehole. Despite the rumors about him, he still wanted to save the children from injury and trouble. ‘’He is thought of a bad person, but saves the lives of Jem and Scout.
On Jem and Scout’s way home on Halloween night, Boo rescued them from danger. He is perceived as dangerous but his only intention is good and innocence. On page 145, Mr. Tate told Atticus that ‘’Bob Ewell fell on his knife.’’, but he knew Boo killed him. Despite knowing he might have been blamed. Boo risked his life and crossed the boundaries of society’s prejudice and his own fear to save the children. He is an example of a mockingbird because he is helpful and nice. Furthermore, Boo is also a mockingbird because the public destroyed his innocence and purity without ever knowing his true character. The sheriff and Atticus do not expose the reality that he killed Bob Ewell. They believe that exposing him to society would be killing a mockingbird. The mockingbird only exists for singing beautiful songs and it needs protection. Boo with his innocence needs protection from society’s evil, prejudice and hatred.
The citizens would kill him without ever knowing that he actually saved the children’s lives. Therefore, Boo is regarded as a mockingbird because he is innocent but destroyed through contact with evil. The story, ‘’To Kill a Mockingbird,’’ symbolizes the deeper meaning of the destruction of innocence. The story of Tom, Jem, Scout and Boo are innocents who were destroyed by evil. They have all been destroyed or injured through their contact with evil people and society’s racist ideas and values. It is a sad realization when society allows innocent and good people to be consumed by the evil and ugliness of racism and prejudice. Unfortunately, and very often, the innocent are overpowered by the sinful and heartless ways of society. Hopefully, people can preserve their faith and persevere with hope for mankind.