The book "To Kill a Mockingbird" is a novel that presents human morality and the prejudice of a small town. It is the story of a man's struggle for justice and moral education for his children. In the novel, Atticus Finch says to his children;“Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit 'em, but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird." Following this quote, we learn that mockingbirds are described as; innocent birds who do nothing for us, except make music that we enjoy listening to. From this interpretation, the reader symbolizes the mockingbird as a precious creature in the world who needs to be protected and looked after. The characters in the novel describe the mockingbird as a creature of true goodness and purity. Throughout the novel there are two examples of human 'mockingbirds'. These include;

  • Tom Robinson: A black man who, after trying to help a white woman with her chores is accused of rape. Tom Robinson's case is the true focus of the story, and it is a key event in the text that follows the children's transition from innocence to maturity. Tom Robinson, altough having enough evidence to prove that he is innocent, is accused of being guilty and thrown into jail. Mayella Ewell and the other 'white people' from the jury all commit a sin by accusing Tom Robinson guilty, simply on the fact that he is black and not white. In the novel, Tom Robinson dies trying to escape from the horrendous prison that he had been sentenced to, and is remembered by all the black community, his family and the Finches as a gentleman who had been treated unfairly due to his skin colour and his social standing in society.

  • Boo Radley: A white boy/man who is locked away in his home and punished by his father for a mistake that he had done in the past. Boo Radley is known around Maycomb as the boy who was never seen of again. He is a man that dominates the imagination of Jem, Scout and Dill, not to mention some of the Maycomb residents themselves. Here is a child who is emotionally damaged by his father's evillness that has never set foot outside again since the incident that made his father so mad. Throughout the neighbourhood there are many myths and rumours about what Boo Radley might be doing inside his dark house and the evil things that he might take part in. Due to the rumours that are spread the children develop an understanding that Boo Radley is a somewhat demonized man who will harm you if you go near him. At the end of the novel, Bob Ewell tries to kill both Jem and Scout, but luckily they are saved by Boo Radley, and as a result Bob Ewell is killed. Following this event the sheriff assures Atticus that Ewell's death was an accident. Later, Scout realizes that this little white lie must be told because putting Boo Radley on trial would be like killing a mockingbird.

By: Naomi Borg