How Does Harper Lee Show the Significance of the Title to Kill a Mockingbird

In: English and Literature

Submitted By emilyp97
Words 787
Pages 4
Write about the ways that Harper Lee shows the significance of the title To Kill a Mockingbird

The title of a novel is a significant asset for the writer to express his/her emotions and how they think the novel should be summed up. However Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” isn’t about “mockingbirds”. The word mockingbird is a metaphorical symbolization of the concept of innocence. This essay will be a critical analysis of the significance of the title “To Kill a Mockingbird”.

Firstly Boo Radley is a character who exploits the true meaning of the title. Harper Lee presents Boo as a very controversial character due to him being locked in his house for 25 years, also because of his lack of speech and involvement throughout the whole novel. Through Lee’s vivid descriptions and Scouts narrations the reader firstly acknowledges Boo as a monster that is “six and a half feet tall”. Scout personifies Boo as a very intimidating individual through Lee’s vivid descriptions and linguistic imagery. The words “six and a half” are adjectives that describe the physical stature of Boo. The reader may feel Boo is the complete opposite of the titles reference however other readers may feel that Scout’s lack of education and maturity are the culprit of Boo’s false identifications. However throughout the novel the reader acknowledges the true qualities of Boo as does Scout as well. Lee establishes Boo as a peaceful individual whose love for children never stops. In modern society many individuals such as Boo are culprits of abuse and false accusations. Their innocence can be their biggest downfall. Harper Lee teaches the reader that her title has a significant meaning portraying innocence and that individual’s such as Scout shouldn’t judge the book by the cover.

Secondly Tom Robinson is another character who exploits the true meaning of the title. Tom is a black man living…...

Similar Documents

How Does Atticus Creates an Impact on Society in Maycomb in the Book "To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee

...The story “To Kill a Mockingbird” was written by Harper Lee. Its setting was in Maycomb County, Alabama during the Great Depression in the 1930’s. The story was narrated through the eyes of a child, Jean Louise Finch, who was nicknamed Scout throughout the book. The dominant themes in this story were justice, courage and racism. To Kill a Mockingbird was basically about the story about the lives of two children, Scout and Scout’s older brother Jeremy, nicknamed Jem in the story, who were both the children of Atticus Finch, and their progression of their mentality for childhood to adulthood. This was greatly influenced by their father, Atticus and the case of Tom Robinson in which Atticus was defending Tom. Atticus was a proud and dignified person in Maycomb. Everyone in Maycomb respects him and he also respects himself. When Atticus was given the case of Tom Robinson, because he always wants to do what he sees as being right, he has to take Tom’s case because he sees this as his duty. Although he knows this case was a lost one because of the racial society he lives in where a white person’s words always triumph over a black person’s words, he still tries his utmost best to defend Tom Robinson. “I’ve got to live with myself” is how he explains his determination to Scout. If he didn’t defend Tom, he “couldn’t hold up his head in town.” Because his would have proved that he was as just as racial as the Maycomb folks. Atticus was “the deadest shot in Maycomb County” and...

Words: 780 - Pages: 4

To Kill a Mockingbird Film Comparison

...based on skin colour. Nelle Harper Lee through her 1960 novel, ‘To Kill a Mockingbird,’ and Boaz Yakin through his 2000 film, ‘Remember the Titans,’ are text composers who tackle the ill-defined paradigms of ‘prejudice, courage and unity’ by painting a picture of the confronting face of racism. Prejudice, courage and unity are notions that are dealt with differently by both composers and, through their use of structural and linguistic features, each composer presents this concept in a manner which connects (or weakens a connection) with audiences in different ways. We as an audience do not need to have experienced prejudice to connect with Lee’s text; rather, we need to have a sense of compassion. With that said, many of the refrains woven into ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ are often lost on a confused youth audience, flicking back through the pages of a book looking for a hidden sentence. On the other hand, connecting with the themes in ‘Remember the Titans’ comes much easier to a youth audience as the film medium presents many more opportunities for a bond to form between character and audience. Soundtrack, shot types, camera angles and verbal techniques all build up the text’s characters in a way which is much more appealing to a youth audience than lines in a book. Lee addresses themes such as prejudice and tolerance; especially the courage it takes to make societal change. These ideas, combined with her personal experiences, undoubtedly influenced Lee to write her Pulitzer......

Words: 3544 - Pages: 15

To Kill a Mockingbird

...28/6/2011 In what ways does Harper Lee engage your sympathies for Tom Robinson during the trial? During the trial, Harper Lee makes the reader become sympathetic towards Tom Robinson due to many techniques, for example she paints a picture of him as being incapable of doing such a crime due to him being handicapped. Lee illustrates that Tom Robinson is not capable of committing a crime that could cost him his life when we first meet him. This is at the beginning of the trial when Tom takes the oath and tries to place his ‘rubber-like left hand’ on the bible but it slips off. Tom tries again but the same thing happens. The reader’s sympathy is engaged here as they can clearly see that Tom is incapable of taking Mayella Ewell around the neck and raping her. As well as being physically handicapped, Tom has a handicap that he has no control over, his skin colour. Harper Lee Makes the reader feel sorry for Tom Robinson before he has even given his testimony so that the readers see the rest of the trial through sympathetic eyes towards Tom. The reader feels that Tom Robinson is being accused by a bunch of rough people, the Ewells. The examples of the Ewells being rough compared to Tom is shown through their speech. Tom’s dialogue is very respectful towards Atticus and Mayella, this is shown when he testifies and says ‘Miss Mayella, Sir’. The exact opposite can be said for the Ewells, when Mayella loses her temper and describes Atticus and the other...

Words: 881 - Pages: 4

“How Does Harper Lee Present Her Ideas About Childhood in the Novel ‘to Kill a Mockingbird’?”

...“How Does Harper Lee Present Her Ideas About Childhood in the Novel ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’?” In the novel ‘‘‘To Kill a Mockingbird’’’ written by Harper Lee, childhood is expressed throughout the story. The narrator of ‘‘‘To Kill a Mockingbird’’’ is Scout, an adult when the book was written, but a child when the story was lived, with this narration Harper Lee, uses Scout to portray the events which, normally would have had a biased review by adults at the time, but because it is written by a child it has non-judgemental views. Therefore, because of the child narrator, and the other main characters being children, this shows that childhood in ‘‘‘To Kill a Mockingbird’’’ is important and crucial. In the chapters 1 to 12, childhood is presented by friendship, gullibility, pride, questioning and fear. The fear element, is a major part through ‘‘To Kill a Mockingbird’’, because at different stages of the novel at least one of the main characters is scared. The Finch children first experience real friendship in ‘‘‘To Kill a Mockingbird’’’, when they meet Charles Baker Harris – Dill. Before Dill has passed the ‘Jem test’, Dill boasts to Scout and Jem that he can read. Which was not usually common in Maycomb at the time, but Jem and Scout could both read, which meant that they thought Dill was showing off and they wouldn’t want to be friends with him. Also what makes Dill become an issue about friendship, is how he introduces himself. He recites his entire name, and makes fun of...

Words: 1258 - Pages: 6

Analysis.to Kill a Mockingbird.

...I’d like to analyze the extract from a book which is entitled “To kill a mockingbird”. The author is Harper Lee, an American author known for her 1960-Pulitzer-Prize-winning and who is considered now by many to be a literary icon. Harper Lee was born in 1926 in the state of Alabama. In 1945-1949 she studied law at the University of Alabama. Her novel ‘To kill a mockingbird’ which deals with the issues of racism that were observed by the author as a child in her hometown was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1961. The book became an international bestseller and was adapted into screen in 1962. The story of “To kill a mockingbird” takes place during a tumultuous time in the South. At that time black people were treated as people of lower level than white people and racial tensions were running high in the South as a whole, especially in Alabama. People all over the US followed events like the Scottsboro incident, 1955 bus boycott and also Martin Luther King’s rise to leadership. Harper Lee is said to have been influenced by these events very much. Though many details of To Kill a Mockingbird are apparently autobiographical she has insisted that the novel is a work of fiction. The text under analysis belongs to the group of fictional texts. The literary trend is realism. The book is brilliant and powerful and it is renowned for its warmth and humor, despite dealing with the serious issues of rape and racial inequality. The story takes place during three years of the Great......

Words: 2373 - Pages: 10

To Kill a Mockingbird: Significance of Minor Characters

...To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is a masterpiece of American literature. The minor characters in To Kill a Mockingbird played an important role; these characters are very relevant to the novel. The role of the minor characters in the book is significant because they outline strong themes and they portray elements of human nature. Minor characters such as Dolphus Raymond, Mrs. Henry Lafayette Dubose and Link Deas demonstrate strong themes such as courage, compassion and kindness such themes are very relevant to the novel. Link Deas is a marvelous minor character. Link displays courage in the novel. During the Tom Robinson trial Link gets up and says, “ I just want the whole lot of you to know one thing right now. That boy’s worked for me eight years an’ I ain’t had a speck o’ trouble outa him. Not a speck.” (Lee 195) It takes a lot of courage to speak out during the trial just to support Tom Robinson. Link is also very kind. He shows kindness because “He walked her the short way, by the Ewells’.”(Lee 249) It is very kind of Link to walk Helen home and commanding Bob Ewell to stop teasing Helen. As well as showing kindness Deas is compassionate. This is correct because “ Mr. Link Deas made a job for Helen. He didn’t really need her, but he felt bad about the way things turned out.”(Lee 249) Link shows compassion by hiring Helen he knows that she will struggle without Tom’s presence. Link Deas displays courage, kindness and compassion within the novel. Mrs. Henry......

Words: 645 - Pages: 3

Harper Lee

...Victoria Heckel Professor Baldassare English 201 4 April 2014 Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird: The Pulitzer Prize-winning best-seller To Kill a Mockingbird was written by Harper Lee in 1960. Lee’s early life influenced a lot of what was introduced in the novel To Kill a Mockingbird, although she made a point that this was not an autobiographical novel. Throughout her life Lee shows similarities in characters in the story as well as ones she’s grown up with. Lee addresses prejudice and tolerance and especially the courage it takes to make societal change. These ideas combined with her personal experiences is what probably won her Pulitzer prize winning novel. Harper Lee was born on April 28, 1926, in Monroeville, Alabama. Her mother, Frances Cunningham Finch Lee, was a homemaker. For most of Lee's life, her mother suffered from mental illness, rarely leaving the house. It is believed that she may have had bipolar disorder (Harper Lee 1). Her father, Amasa Coleman Lee, practiced law, a member of the Alabama state legislature (Lee, Harper 2). She grew up as a tomboy in a small town, which she fought on the playground, and talked back to teachers. She was bored with school and resisted any sort of conformity. Truman Capote was one of Lee’s closest childhood friends, Lee often stepped up to protect Truman from other boys his age that picked on him for the fancy clothes be wore and also for being a sissy. The two were different but they both shared in having difficult......

Words: 928 - Pages: 4

how does harper lee present prejudices in the novel to kill a mockingbird

...How does Harper Lee present the theme of Prejudice in the novel? ‘To Kill a Mockingbird.’? In the novel ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ Harper Lee presents the theme of prejudice in a number of different ways. She shows that prejudice is present throughout all levels of society in Maycomb. She directs her attention to groups and individuals. ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ was set in the mid 1930’s and although slavery was abolished by the North in 1865 throughout America, the South still treated blacks as inferior, as the slaves they once were and the residents of Maycomb County typify this. The main theme of prejudice in this book is that of racial prejudice. The whole trial of Tom Robinson is full of prejudice against him. Before the trial even commences Reverend Sykes invites the children to sit in the coloured balcony – (Pg 181). Even the black and white public must sit separately! Extreme racial prejudice is shown to us by Harper Lee when she tells us of the colour segregation. In Maycomb there is segregation between black and white people. This is emphasised by the way blacks file in last and are seated in the balcony. Their politeness to the children is shown when four black people give up their front row seats for them. This shows white children also have authority over black adults. It is ironic that the children will have the same viewpoint as the black people attending the trial – in terms of where they see it from. At the time black people could not show their......

Words: 1791 - Pages: 8

To Kill a Mockingbird

...The story under analysis is the excerpt from the novel “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee, that’s why it has not a special title. The title of the whole book is thought-provoking and idiomatic; it makes the reader wonder what a Mockingbird is and who is supposed to kill it. The subject matter of the story is racial discrimination, corruption of the court system in the American world of prejudice. This extract depicts a trial of Tom Robinson, a Negro, who is in the criminal dock on a capital charge of assaulting a white girl. His defending counsel Atticus Finch is an experienced lawyer and progressive minded man. It is the Atticus’s speech to the jury that takes the best part of the text, so as far as contextual style is concerned; it presents a vivid example of oratorical style. Thus the main part of the text presents the main character’s monologue with bits of the story-teller’s commentary and dialogues. As for the type of narration, it is the first person narration the story-teller being the observer of the events. It is chosen to convey the atmosphere of the court-room. The story is told by the Atticus’s daughter, Jean Louise, and her description makes the story more convincing, vivid, real and emotional. Now I would like to dwell upon the compositional analysis of the text. The story has neither introduction nor conclusion. It can be explained that the text is only an extract from the novel, so there are big parts of the novel which both precede and follow the......

Words: 2401 - Pages: 10

Which Character Does Harper Lee Create the Most Sympathy for in to Kill a Mockingbird?

...Which Character does Harper Lee create the most sympathy for in ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’? In ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, Harper Lee creates many characters, which we, as the reader, can feel sorry for. Boo Radley, Atticus, even the Ewells at some points. However Tom Robinson has faced many hard challenges in his life but gets through them being kind and honest and yet in the end he still ends up shot out of cold blood. Harper Lee creates sympathy for Tom by allowing the reader to straight away know that Tom did not do the crime he was said to have done and was paying for. We gain sympathy throughout the novel as we see just how badly he is treated because of the colour of his skin. There is a large amount of Segregation still shown throughout the book as Harper Lee had written this book about 70 years after the American civil war. The black people live in a separate part of town, have a different church and are always treated poorly by the white people. This is shown predominantly in the court case, as it is obvious that Tom is innocent and yet is still said to be guilty. This trial is based on the Scottsborough trial, which occurred when Harper Lee was growing up, where two white women accused nine black men of raping them. Some of these men were hanged after the jury said they were guilty. A few months after, it was proven that they were in fact innocent. They, just like Tom, were judged not on their crime but on the colour of their skin. Our sympathy for Tom increases......

Words: 543 - Pages: 3

To Kill a Mockingbird

...In the Pulitzer Prize winning novel, To Kill A Mockingbird, written by Harper Lee, the novel commences by introducing the three main characters Charles Baker “Dill” Harris, Jean Louise “Scout” Finch, and Jeremy Atticus “Jem” Finch. These three children are the focus of the revolutionary piece, which is settled in the farmers city of Maycomb, Alabama in the early years of The Great Depression. Why does the author include the third character Dill, why didn’t Lee focus only on the two Finch siblings? Possibly Lee meant to establish Boo within the plot to emphasize the children’s friendship. Perhaps this can be explained with; the Greek philosophy of Pythagoreanism, the Bible, and the compatible characters of the children. The story of how these children met was arbitrary; however, these were the years that will never be forgotten due to the mystery of Boo, the youngest within the Radley family. Arthur “Boo” Radley is a character in the novel that keeps Dill, Jem, and Scout together by arousing their curiosity. Boo could possibly be a psychotic ex-con and this only drives the kids deeper into the rumors about him. Boo is a mysterious recluse that leaves the entire neighborhood filled with questions. The mystery of Boo Radley is what initially brings the children together as a group and continues to be the glue that holds them together. Lee perhaps incorporated the Pythagoreanism a philosophy established by Pythagoras. This philosophy involves the theory of the perfection......

Words: 617 - Pages: 3

Good and Evil : to Kill a Mockingbird

...In addition to bearing the title of the novel, Harper Lee uses “To Kill a Mockingbird” as an opportunity to convey the significance of moral veracity to depict the alleged Mockingbirds of May comb county. She uses the innocence of children such as Jem and Scout to experience the underlying reality of good and evil in society, as their father, Atticus Finch attempts to teach them the morals of killing shadowed innocent beings who are helpless to their own freedom. After the encounter with Atticus and being told that to kill a mocking is a sin, Scout asks Miss Maudie who explains that,” 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.” In the novel, Mockingbirds symbolize harmless innocent people who have only ever tried to serve others but are destroyed by the evil around them. To terrorize a Mockingbirds security is deemed to be morally detestable, as it would be considered a “sin.” The concept of Mockingbird relate to those discriminated for complex past history and wellbeing, race and mixed orientation. Boo Radley, Tom Robinson and mixed children represent the innocent creatures that are deemed to be the harmless and helpless Mockingbirds of Maycomb County. Boo Radley is clarified as a greatly misunderstood troubled victim of society with an intricate past history involving an abusive parental figure devoted to his own selfish pride, resulting in locking his son away from......

Words: 1206 - Pages: 5

How to Kill a Mockingbird

...To kill a Mockingbird Journal entry #1 “Maycomb was an old town, but it was a tired old town when I first knew it. In rainy weather the streets turned to red slop…” Pg: 5 This quotation on chapter one is Scout’s introductory description of Maycomb. Scout emphasizes the slow pace, Alabama heat, and old fashioned values of the town. She writes of time when she “first knew” Maycomb, indicating that she embarks upon this recollection of her childhood much later in life, as an adult. It makes reference to the widespread poverty of the town, implying that Maycomb is in the midst of the great depression. As stated in the quote “There was no hurry, for there was nowhere to go, nothing to buy and no money to buy it with.” As been specified above Maycomb county was a ghost town. In the text on page six it clarifies how mysterious it was, “Maycomb County had recently been told that it had nothing to fear but fear itself.” To kill a Mockingbird Journal entry #2 “I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing.” Pg: 20 On chapter two scout talks about how she takes reading for granted. Losing it would be devastating to her. Scout compares it to not breathing anymore, reading, for little kids, is not a priority in Maycomb. Scout, however, has Atticus her father teach the incredible joy of reading to his children. This applies to the second sentence about breathing. Although she does not think to herself ‘I love breathing’ for there she does not......

Words: 4045 - Pages: 17

How Guilt Is Portrayed in Macbeth and to Kill a Mockingbird

...How Guilt is Portrayed in To Kill a Mockingbird and Macbeth In 1623 William Shakespeare wrote his play Macbeth, 337 years later Harper Lee wrote her novel To Kill a Mockingbird. Although the texts were written in entirely different eras and settings, both texts are similar in the theme of guilt. Guilt is a self-critical emotion that humans feel that compromises their sense of moral integrity. Guilt allows whoever is feeling this emotion to know that they have wronged another person or themselves and gone against their sense of responsibility or moral standards. In both Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird and Shakespeare’s Macbeth, the lead villains follow parallel paths with regard to their guilt, undertaking ill advised courses of actions which result not only in the undoing of the women in their lives, but also ultimately their own demise. Early on in William Shakespeare’s play Macbeth the lead character Macbeth is at war with himself over what the correct course of action is, burdened by the Weird Sisters’ stating “All hail, Macbeth, that shalt be king hereafter!” (I.iii.51), which leaves Shakespeare with the choice of taking Macbeth down the path of letting life play it’s course or taking matters into his own hands. Macbeth ultimately chooses to take matters into his own hands and kills King Duncan. This allows the play to follow the action plan of Macbeth instantly becoming king of Scotland, causing him to spend the rest of the play covering up his tracks. Similarly, in......

Words: 1258 - Pages: 6

Race and Gender in Harper Lee's to Kill a Mockingbird

...Harper Lee demonstrates the racism of South in the 30's. Tom Robinson's trial represents the racist atmosphere of Maycomb's society. The racial bias of the people of Maycomb makes them blind to see the fact of Tom's innocence and this brings about his murder. Tom's murder echoes Aimé Césaire sarcastic statement in his Et les chiens se taisent, that "in the whole world no poor devil is lynched, no wretch is tortured, in whom I too am not degraded and murdered" (qtd in Black Skin, White Masks 61). Darren Felty in "An Overview of To Kill a Mockingbird", states: "Lee wants to make explicit the consequences of racism. She accomplishes this goal by employing Tom Robinson's trial to allude to different historical events such as the famous 'Scottsboro Boys' trials of the 1930s". According to Felty, in these trials nine black men were accused of raping two white women. Despite a lack of evidence, the men were sentenced to death by the white jury. Unlike Tom, they finally escaped death after a long time (2). Tom Robinson's trial mirrors these historical events to illustrate the racial binarity and segregation that the black people suffered throughout the colonial history. Racial binarity is prevalent in the novel. The narrow-minded people of Maycomb are in favor of segregation in their society and they consider sexual relationship as a threat to their segregation. According to Adam Smykowski in "Symbolism and Racism in To Kill a Mockingbird", For example, "the red geraniums......

Words: 1944 - Pages: 8