The author, in the novel To Kill a Mocking Bird presents a deeper understanding in relation to events occurring in her novel. The author uses symbolism to link events which takes place in the novel. To Kill a Mocking Bird’, according to Lee and Bloom (29), can simply be translated to mean “to wipe out the virtue of a person”. According to the author, the ‘mocking bird’ designates an upright individual, but rather destroyed by suffering bestowed as a result of other individual evil deeds.
The Author further describes Mocking bird as a small bird recognized by its non-stop irritating singing sound, thus, the noise possess nuisance to people, though that is its nature. However, to its own self, it may be an expression of different emotions such as; excitement, anger and hunger.
To Kill a Mocking Bird is presented as novel crafted with symbolism. Symbolism has been enhanced using characters such as children, Tom Robinson, Boo Radley and Jems Finch. The writer explores how individual characters mentioned contribute to enhancing the style of symbolism in the novel. Besides, the writer explores other non-character elements such as the; the gun, mad dog and the house as major contributors of author’s work towards forming symbolism in the novel.
To enhance understanding of the novel, the author has widely embraced symbolism in the novel. The most important symbol used and which helps us to understand the rest of the novel is the Mockingbird itself. The author has constantly used the word to symbolize the virtue of innocence (Lee & Bloom, 46).
Although the title has little to assert what the actual novel illustrates but it has contributed significantly to the development of the plot. However, other several characters have strengthened the author’s ability of embracing symbolism in the novel.
Children have been depicted in the novel as innocent and not susceptible to exacting vices of the present-day world (McCarty, IV). In this case, the novel contrasts mocking bird in the sense that, the children world is anchored on innocence, until they begin to mature into adulthood (Lee and Bloom (63),
Tom Robinson, a notable character in the novel, is a black man accused of raping and violently attacking Mayella Ewell (Lee and Bloom, 15). The allegations leveled against him seem to be untrue because Mayella had desired and thus, went a step further of making sexual advances to Tom Robinson. Her father notices her and brutally punishes her.
However, Mayella suppresses her feelings publicly for fear of racial discrimination which existed in England (McCarty, VI). Besides, it is noted the Mayella’s father is a social drunkard thus, causing much pain to Mayella.
Further the white panel of judges. Though they do not possess credible evidence on the allegation tailored towards Tom Robinson, their verdict to imprison him is linked to racism. Consequently, Tom Robinson while escaping from the prison is shot to death. In this case, Tom Robinson has been exposed to racial prejudice which cost his life despite of his innocence (Lee and Bloom, 63). Tom Robinson and Mayella have been used in the novel to symbolize the social bias that society is made up of.
Racial profiling has been a common phenomenon in present world whereby individuals have been discriminated in terms of getting favors or opportunities. Besides, the white judges have been used to suggest the evil and favoritism in terms of asserting justice in the society. Consequently, the imprisonment of Tom Robinson illustrates the harsh punishments and sufferings which the innocent always go through in the society (Lee and Bloom, 76)
Boo Radley is the son of the late Mr. Radley and brother to Nathan Radley. Boo Radley is subjected to home imprisonment by his father for childhood mistakes. The harsh treatment is still perpetuated by his elder brother after the demise of his father (Milton & Lee, 7). The harsh treatment of Boo Radley compels the residents of Maycomb to discuss his predicament in hushed tones. Besides, children fear and run-away whenever they spot him.
His contact with the outside world is barred, as we see his brother Nathan sealing the knot-hole with cement, which served as his way into and out to meet the Finch’s children. He has been confined in the house for many years that the residents of Maycomb have started to forget about his existence.
Boo Radley symbolizes a portrait of a good child, who, despite of having being exposed to cruelty and hatred by his father and brother, continues to do good to others. Symbolism is further illustrated in his endless good deeds.
For instance, he mends and places on the fence Jem’s torn pant which was torn as he was running from Nathan’s shot. Also, despite the Flinch’s children belittling and seeing him as less human, he constantly gives them presents, and even goes to the extent of saving them from Bob Ewell’s stab on their way home from the Halloween party (Lee & Bloom, 98).
He also carries the wounded Jem home, who previously viewed him as a supernatural being, from being locked indoors always and not being able to mingle with the residents (Milton & Lee, 45). Boo Radley’s good behaviors are symbolism that makes up conscience of a good person in the society.
Besides, Lee on the other hand in the novel is portrayed as a figure of superstition, thus this depiction symbolizes bad things in the house in which he lives. The superstition is strengthened because when the children’s looks for him in the house, but what they actually see is the exterior of the house.
The exterior of the house in this sense becomes Boo himself!, Further, the house linked to Boo is isolated from the rest of the community. This is illustrated by Lee when she says, “ …. The shutters and entrances of Radley house… Radley house never possessed shades I once probed Atticus if it ever possessed any” (Lee, 45)
The novel symbolizes Jem Finch as an innocent boy growing to fight off the vices of the society. For example, many vices encountered by Jem such as; abuses from other children, and the unfair trial of tom Robinson has instilled in him strength and vision he to conquer life. With a scout, he tries to be strong and faces life’s challenges with optimism and hope. Also, the moral upbringing by his father has helps to shape him as responsible and an upright individual (Milton & Lee, 14). The child’s innocence in Jem
The unfair trial of Tom Robinson and his father’s good and wise parenting symbolizes Jem’s desire to become a lawyer. The good in Jem is further symbolized his action of stopping his sister scout, from crashing the insect, arguing it had done no wrong. In a nut shell, Jem understands living things and people we do often overlook and criticize contributes to creating a positive impact in our lives (Milton & Lee, 69).
The author has greatly embraced use of other non-character objects in the novel to sustain the style of symbolism in the novel. One of the objects widely used is the guns. Guns in the real world serve as a mean of protection and fighting an enemy. However, in the novel, they have been used to symbolize untrue strength. This is noticed when Atticus says that, “that gentleman holding a gun is is a coward man” (Milton & Lee, 78).
Also, a mad dog has been used in the novel to illustrate the madness created by madness. Lastly, the fire that burns Miss Maudie’s house and dissolves snowman has been used to symbolize a fiery bearing that the city takes in terms of mingling of race because the snowman is done using snow, thus white people and the dirt, represents black people
To Kill a Mockingbird, has enhanced symbolism to assert the author’s message. The author has extensively used characters such as the children, Tom Robinson, Boo Radley, Jems Finch and non-characters such as guns among others to aid the readers understand symbolism in the novel.
Tom Robinson and the snowman have been used by the author to illustrate the racial profiling that exists in our society. In the case of Tom, her association with Mayella, a white girl against the wishes of her father shows how deeply the society is bedeviled with this vice (Lee, 63).
Besides, the tittle of the novel illustrates the symbol of innocence, thus, the mockingbird only enjoys happy moments characterized by singing beautiful songs.
Killing the mocking bird is regarded as a sin. This is illustrated by Atticus when he tells his children,” as you grow, you’ ill witness white men” (Lee, 45). Further, Atticus warns his children against using the gun to shoot the mocking bird; this illustrates his caring nature for mocking bird.
Lee, Harper and Bloom, Harold. To Kill a Mockingbird, Infobase Publishing, New York, 2010
Milton, Joyce and Lee, Harper. To Kill a Mockingbird, Barron’s Educational Series, New York, 1984
McCarty, Lisa. To Kill a Mockingbird, Saddleback Educational Publ, California, 2006
Lee, Harper. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Collins,New York, 1993