Symbolism in To Kill a Mockingbird
As one of the great pieces of American literature, To Kill a Mockingbird is a book that possesses countless symbols in its pages. The depth of this book is profound, and the symbols run the gamut from the obvious to the obscure. The title itself is one of the more obvious symbols: no mockingbird is present throughout the course of the story. Instead, the mockingbird represents the most common element of the story: innocence. This story details a profound crisis experienced by both Jem and Scout in this formative period in their life; thus, the title To Kill a Mockingbird reflects the loss of innocence. Furthermore, Scout herself makes mention of this theme when discussing Boo Radley. Hunting the man, she says, would be like shooting a mockingbird, presumably because he is an innocent, and simply does not understand the repercussions of his behavior.
One of the more obscure symbols in the story is Boo Radley himself. Throughout the course of the text, the character undergoes a dramatic change when perceived through the eyes of the children. At the start, he was a supernatural element, connected to the children only through their perception of the rumors associated with him. However, he eventually changes, ultimately saving Jem and Scout from another character, Bob Ewell.
- Boo himself comes to symbolize innocence, and the changes that occur in that element of every character throughout the course of the story.
- His character’s growth reflects the changes undergone by Jem and Scout; his experiences reflect the true good human nature that exists in all individuals, regardless of how society perceives them or what happened in their past.
- While the symbol of the mockingbird is present from the very moment the reader views the title of the book, seeing Boo Radley as a symbolic figures is slightly more obscure.