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Symbolism - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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Symbolism . A symbol is an object, person, or place that represents something else.

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A symbol is an object, person, or place that represents something else.

Harper Lee has used symbolism rather extensively throughout the novel and a great deal of it refers to the problems of racism in the South during the early twentieth century. Symbolism can be traced in almost every important episode or event which formulates the story line.


Symbols in TKAM

The Mockingbird: a symbol of innocence.

Like hunters who kill mockingbirds for sport, people kill innocence, or other people who are innocent, without thinking about what they are doing. Atticus stands firm in his defense of innocence and urges his children not to shoot mockingbirds both literally and figuratively. This motif arises four times in the novel.

  • Atticus gives Jem and Scout air guns for Xmas and instructs them not to kill mockingbirds
  • When B.B. Underwood writes about Tom Robinson’s death in his column.
  • A mockingbird sings right before Bob Ewell attacks Jem and Scout
  • Scout agrees with Atticus that prosecuting Boo for Ewell’s murder would be like killing a mockingbird

Other Symbols in TKAM

Boo Radley

Small town folks fear that if they act eccentric and fail to adhere to social rules they too will end up like Boo, isolated and remembered as a grotesque monster. Its is this fear that supports the social status quo and keeps individuals from standing up for that which they believe. Until people can understand and accept Boo….. As Scout does at the end of the book, they will always be stuck in a a world filled with fear, lies, and ignorance.


Other Symbols.....


Guns represent

False strength

According to Atticus, guns do not prove manhood or bravery. Manhood and bravery come form a man’s ability to persevere and fight using his wits, his heart and his character. Neighbors use and venerate guns to the detriment of developing their own personal strength.


Miss Maudie

Miss Maudie: is a classic example of the enlightened woman living in an age of suppressed womanhood. She hates staying indoors and is always seen pottering around her garden, working on her flowerbeds. She understands Atticus’ need to fight against the racial prejudices and believes in him absolutely. When her house gets burnt down, instead of moping about it, she is back on her feet the next day, restoring her house and her garden.

She is thus a symbol of strength and integrity.


Mrs. Dubose

.....symbolizes the grit and determination of a woman, who though aware of the fact that she is going to die soon, wants to do so with all her wits about her. Her addiction to morphine is a negative factor and she attempts to overcome it appreciably.


In Scout's Words....

“ hurt Boo Radley too would be like killing a mockingbird.”

Thus the mockingbird has been used to symbolize the good and the harmless things in the world which should not be abused.

The mockingbird is a symbol for two of the characters in the novel: Tom Robinson and Boo Radley.

In the novel, the people of Maycomb only know Boo Radley and Tom Robinson by what others say about them. According to a critic....”Both characters do not really have their own “song” in a sense, and therefore, are characterized by other people’s viewpoints.


Assignment: Choose the symbol in TKAM that you think is the most important and write a well developed paragraph explaining why you choose it.