The Symbol of Innocence and Sin in To Kill a Mockingbird, a Novel by Harper Lee

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The mockingbird is an important symbol in the book that represents innocence. The quote, “They don’t eat up people’s gardens, don’t nest in corncribs, they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird,” is an example of how the peaceful mockingbird symbolises innocence. The mockingbirds do not seem to do any harm to anything as Cal explained it. They are very peaceful creatures that do not deserve to be killed.

Mockingbirds show that there can be good in something without there being any harm done. Another quote is, “I’d rather you shot at tin cans in the backyard, but I know you’ll go after birds. Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit ’em, but remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird,” said Atticus with a strong opinion. Scout and Jem just got a bb gun and Atticus wanted to explain to Jem what he could and could not shoot at.

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Atticus wanted to tell Jem not to shoot at the mockingbirds because it is a “sin.” It is a sin to him because mockingbirds are very docile creatures. He even told him to shoot at another kind of bird so that the mockingbirds would not be hurt by Jem. Atticus knew that they did not deserve that kind of treatment. Mockingbirds are a great symbol for innocence.

Another symbol in the book is Boo Radley who represents misconceptions and judgement. A quote to explain his negative symbolism is, “Jem gave a reasonable description of Boo: Boo was about six-and-a-half feet tall, judging from his tracks, he dined on raw squirrels and and cats he could catch, that’s why his hands were bloodstained, if you ate animal raw, you could never wash the blood off.

There was a long jagged scar that ran across his face; what teeth he had were yellow and rotten; his eyes popped, and he drooled most of the time.” This quote showed that the children had many misconceptions about Boo. If any of this was true they probably would not have been saved by him at the end of the book. The children had never seen Boo so they would not know if he had a long jagged scar on his face. All of the quote is just speculation and folklore surrounding Boo Radley.

To add, the following quote also shows his symbolism for misconceptions and judgements, “If they are all alike why they go out of their way to despise each other? Scout, I think I’m beginning to understand why Boo Radley’s stayed shut up in the house all this time. It because he wants to stay inside.” This quote was made by Jem. Jem was saying all of this because he is realizing that he has false ideas about Boo, and he was trying to correct them. He used to think that Boo stayed inside of the house before because he had issues. Now he thinks he stays inside to get away from a cruel outside of his house.

There is another quote that can explain the symbolism, “Summer he watches his children’s heart break. Autumn again and Boo’s children needed him. Atticus was right. One time he said you never really know a man until you stand in his shoes and walk around in them. Just standing in the Radley porch was enough.” In this quote Scout is realizing everything that they think they know about Boo is wrong. She now understands Boo and why he acts so reclusive and shy around people. It is because that is the way he is most comfortable and that is how his personality is. Boo is a great example of symbolism for misconceptions and judgments.

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The Symbol of Innocence and Sin in To Kill a Mockingbird, a Novel by Harper Lee. (2023, Jun 15). Retrieved from

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