The phrase ‘to kill a mocking bird’ stands out as a metaphor in the book To kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Atticus laments that “Remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird” (Lee, 1988, p. 87). Mocking birds symbolizes innocent people like Boo and Radley in the novel. Despite the innocence of the mocking birds, which only sings to people, some evils such as Boo’s abusive father harm them. The likening of the innocence to songbirds comes out clearly, when Boo appears not to contemplate to harm Jem.
During the fire, he covers scout with blanket and consequently secures kids from Bob. Such acts depicts Boo’s cleanness of heart which proves not to hypocritical as he puts it into action just like mockingbirds sing out their hearts. The idea of using the metaphor is to inculcate the morals in people to see them find out a need to safeguard the venerable species: analogous to songbirds, which are ever prone to damage by children and people at large.
The mother adds, “Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy . . . but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird” (Lee, 1988, p.197). The author achieves an imperative moral sense as Atticus makes a decision to consider Tom’s case. On the other hand, Jem aims to protect Roly-poly.
Lee uses a number of symbols and motifs to deliver the intended message in the novel. A symbol like mockingbird permits the author to portray abstract ideas vividly. Ideally, mocking bird, as a symbol takes the place of innocence.
Thus damaging mocking birds, in contemporary language would be tantamount to destroying innocence. Several characters such as Boo, Jem, Radley, and Tom Robinson among others stand out as mockingbirds, which suffer destruction when they encounter the evil. Mr. Underwood relates Tom Robinson’s shooting to a “…senseless slaughter of song birds” (Lee, 1988, p.237).
Further, in the novel, scout attributes attempts to hurt Boo Radley to “‘shooting’ a mockingbird” (Lee, 1988, p.250). Fragile innocence of children in particular seems endangered by the world of racists who treat it harshly. On the other hand, Lee’s choice of motif allows informing and development of the novels major themes. The motifs employed included: mad dog incident, or the items Boo Radley leaves for the children in the tree. The deployment of motifs serves to provide gothic details in the text.
This way, Lee is capable to bring up the spirit of drama in the novel. The incorporation of elements such as the fire, which damaged Miss Maudie’s house, the mad dog shot by Atticus, superstitions of the children concerning Boo Radley among others help to create tension in the narration of the events surrounding the novel.
Scout learns life lessons on the significance of the moral subscription not to hurt the innocent. The innocent are always vulnerable and have no mechanism to self protect from abuse. Atticus bears a gothic name ‘finch’, which is a typical small harmless bird. By revolving issues around him, Lee is able to explore and create avenues for making recommendations on how right society should live.
Atticus finch stands out as morally upright character whose ideologies amounts to heroism making all other characters subscribe to his way of doing things. Upon reading To Kill a Mockingbird, the reader hardly leaves without a different sense of life. Lessons on coexistence of evil and good in the society and the importance of moral education as bridge to emergence of socially upright society are worth noting.
Through an entertaining tone, literature is able to educate the society in various indulgencies, which by scaly scrutiny may seem right. ‘To kill a mockingbird’ also serves to solve even the modern world’s prevailing challenges such social inequalities and inhumane acts toward innocent citizens for instance corruption which can be compared to an act of killing a mockingbird.
Lee, H. (1988).To Kill a Mockingbird. New York, NY: Popular Library.