To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

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The Innocence Within

Thoughts are like seeds that take root in our minds. They spawn feelings and more thoughts that can have powerful consequences. In the novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee, the views of the townspeople in the 1930’s Southern town of Maycomb greatly impact the lives of two innocent men. The people make false accusations against Tom Robinson and Arthur “Boo” Radley because they are different. These characters are representative of the author’s reoccurring symbol of the mockingbird, which signifies innocence, and subjects them to vulnerability. Tom Robinson and Boo Radley, although innocent, fall victim to the hatred of society and thus emerge as mockingbirds. Tom Robinson, is black man, who is wrongfully
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Tom Robinson is wrongfully convicted of rape and eventually killed in prison, whereas Boo Radley is killed emotionally because he is not accepted by society. Since it is a sin to kill a mockingbird, it is also a sin to kill innocent souls like Tom and Boo. When Scout tries to understand why it is a sin to kill a mockingbird, Miss Maudie elucidates Atticus’s opinion more clearly by stating, “Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy...They don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird” (103). Mockingbirds sing and make beautiful music; however they mimic the songs of other birds, so they are seen through others. Tom and Boo are like mockingbirds because they are subject to the perceptions of the people of Maycomb. The townspeople knew these characters based on what others said about them. Consequently, Tom and Boo do not have their own “song” and are portrayed by others’ views of them. The mockingbird emerges as a metaphor for the wrong in harming innocent and defenseless people.
Tom Robinson’s character exemplifies the mockingbird because he is a black man who is denied justice based on racial prejudice. After Mayella Ewell accuses Tom of rape, there is no way for him to be judged fairly because the narrow-minded, white townspeople are unable to get past their prejudices towards blacks. At his trial, Tom’s lawyer, Atticus, argues,

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