The Novel 'To Kill a Mockingbird' is set in Maycomb, Alabama between 1933 and 1936. This was a time of widespread racism and suffering from the effects of The Great Depression. In October 1929 The Wall Street crash occurred, it was the event most historians consider as the trigger of The Great Depression; the greatest crisis for capitalism in the last century bar the two World Wars. Inflation was rampant and for those who were fortunate enough to possess it, money had little to no value. Its effects were so profound that people were forced to use an entity the size of a wheelbarrow to transport the necessary quantity of paper money to purchase a cup of coffee. The worst affected people in this book are the Cunninghams, a respectable farming family in Maycomb.
It is important to understand the novel from a historical context of American History because the situations are reflected in the circumstances of the novel. In particular, in 1861 The Civil War transpired between the Northern and Southern states of America. The Southern states were opposed to the Northern states intention to abolish slavery, as a step towards industrialisation and capitalism. In order to prevent the United States of America dividing into two, the Northern states initiated a war with the intention of forcing America into remaining as one political entity. Whilst the victorious Northern states abolished slavery, the new American constitution stated that Africans were 3/5's of a human being; this is but one of the reasons that, in the southern states, racist attitudes remained. This is the period in time in which the book is set.
Nelle Harper Lee was born on 26th April 1926 to Amasa Coleman Lee, an attorney at law and Frances Cunningham Finch Lee, making her the same age as Scout. She grew up in in a small town of around 500 residents called Monroeville, Alabama which is very similar to Maycomb, the fictional town in which the story is set; Lee's interpretation of a microcosm of the world. Lee is said to have been a 'tomboy' who mostly fraternised with the neighbourhood boys as was Scout Finch the narrator of novel. The Finch name was derived from the maiden name of Lee's mother. It is apparent that the respected family; 'The Cunningham's' name originated from the middle name of Lee's mother.
There are several characters that seem to have been inspired by authentic people in Harper Lee's life, the most commonly known is her close childhood friend and next door neighbour Truman Capote who helped her write the novel and is said to have been the basis for the character of Dill. Harper Lee herself described her sister Alice, a highly esteemed attorney as being 'Atticus in a skirt'. It has been speculated that the character of Boo Radley is based on a man who lived in close proximity to Lee and Capote. It can be assumed that Tom Robinson's trial stemmed from a trial Lee's father was politically involved in; The Scottsborough trials, in which nine black men were accused of raping two white prostitutes and were sentenced to death in spite of both the lack of evidence and credibility of the witnesses. This information illustrates the semi-autobiographical nature of the novel in the way that the novel appears to bear a significant resemblance to Harper Lee's life but does not depict it. The novel is an anti-racist book. It is a didactic novel in the way that it illustrates all form of prejudice to be wrong.
Unlike its foil, the Blue Jay, The Mockingbird is a symbol of kindness, peace, generosity, love, self-sacrifice and innocence. It is a symbol of goodness and represents those who bring joy to people and do good in the community. The symbol represents those who have no voice of their own. It is an icon which epitomises not only those, whose only voice is the song of other birds, but those who are only heard through the voices of other birds. It is said to be a sin to kill a mockingbird because they do nothing but sing. Part of the symbolism of the mockingbird is the Finch name; Finches are songbirds. The Mockingbird Symbol is used to represent and associate different characters in the novel. It could be argued that Tom Robinson and Arthur 'Boo' Radley through their behaviour and circumstances are mockingbird like characters.
Tom Robinson is a black, Christian field hand. He is a married man and has children. He is accused of raping a white woman, Mayella Ewell by the woman herself and her father, Bob Ewell. Although he did not commit this crime he was imprisoned for it and shot whilst trying to escape. Boo Radley is a recluse, his real name is Arthur Radley but the town have named him Boo to mock and desecrate his character. After being sentenced to time in an industrial school his father decided to keep him housebound. As a result no one has seen him for 15 years.
The entire Robinson family are respectable members of society. 'her hair was a wad of tiny pigtails, each ending in a bright bow. She grinned from ear to ear'. The appearance and attributes of children are used to indicate the respectability of their family; children are used as a representation of their guardians. Metaphorical describe language is used to create the image of a well presented and happy child. The Robinson's have little money as Helen Robinson has been shunned by most employers and the family believes Tom Robinson is still being incarcerated for a crime he did not commit. However, the family of which Tom is the head still cares for their children; they still perform a respectable act; they still show their children love and bring them joy. This denotes Tom's respectability but more importantly the respectability of the family as a unit. The love shown gives the sense of Tom Robinson's relatability to the mockingbird figure. Tom Robinson is a black man who is also a respectable member of society. 'a quiet, respectable, humble negro'. Atticus' statement is believable because of the fact that he is both a respectable man and a symbol of justice and righteousness in this novel. When he recognises Tom's respectability in front of his entire community, it attests the incontrovertibility of his view. Atticus considers Tom to be quiet; by commenting on this part of his character Atticus is protesting the absence of any hellion temperament in his nature. Atticus' use of the word humble can be interpreted as the suggestion of the subservience Tom feels, as well as the inferiority and insignificance the white populace of the community view him. These qualities all indicate respect as a compulsion. Atticus has to protest Tom's respectability because Tom is unable to speak for himself. This relates to the symbol of the mockingbird through the way Tom is depicted as having to rely on Atticus to be heard.
Tom is shown to be a respectable employee through the esteem he holds with his employer, Mr Link Deas. 'That boy's worked for me eight years an' I ain't had a speck o' trouble outa him. Not a speck.' It is a testament to Tom's character that Mr Link Deas, a white man would stand up in front of his racist, white community and protest Tom's honesty and respectability. This act is a sacrifice on his account as it is likely that he will be neglected and condemned by his community as well as reprimanded and chastised by the judge for his outburst. Mr Link Deas knows that Tom is a good man, he is respectable and it his loyalty to this good man that compels Mr Deas to defend him. Mr Link Deas is another voice used to defend Tom. Tom has no way to protest neither his innocence nor his respectability without these voices because they are the voices of white men. Tom Robinson is a good and reliable employee; his employer recognises this. 'I work for him all year round, he's got a lot of pecan trees'n things'. The majority of cotton pickers in Maycomb only work the fields during harvest time, at the most, they're employed for half of the year. The fact that Tom works for Mr Link Deas all year round suggests the fact that Mr Links Deas employs him when it unnecessary for him to be gainfully employed. This substantiates Tom's reliability as a worker because this illustrates the reality that Mr Links Deas contrives work for him to do. Through his employment of Helen Robinson Mr Links Deas shows his respect for Tom. 'I think Mr Link Deas'll take her'. Whilst Tom is in incarceration the sole breadwinner of the family becomes Helen Robinson, his wife. The majority of the employers in Maycomb are white; the majority of the white community have shunned Helen Robinson because of the allegations against her husband. Reverend Sykes correctly assumes that Mr Link Deas will employ Helen during harvest. He is unaware of her abilities as a worker Helen and it is out of respect for her husband that he employs her; he doesn't actually requisite her service. Mr Link Deas shows his respect for Tom through his defence of his widow. 'You don't have to touch her, all you have to do is make her afraid, an' if assault ain't enough to keep you locked up awhile, I'll get you in on the Ladies' Law, so get outa my sight! If you don't think I mean it, just bother that girl again!' After Tom's execution, whilst employed by Mr Link Deas it became apparent that Helen Robinson was walking nearly a mile in the opposite direction to avoid he Ewell family who 'chunked' at her on her way to work. Mr Link Deas warned the entire Ewell family to abstain from harrying Helen as she travelled through their street on the way to work. This resulted in Bob Ewell shadowing Helen to work on a daily basis, mumbling obscenities throughout the journey. Mr Link Deas stands up for Helen; he defended her just like he defended her husband. It is out of respect for Tom that Mr Link Deas protects Helen from Bob Ewell's abuse and that of the entire Ewell family. This suggests that the relationship between Mr Link Deas and Tom was one where Tom brought such joy to his life and was so good to him that Mr Link Deas felt obligated to defend his wife after his passing. This possibility links Tom back to the symbol of the mockingbird, through the way he treated others.
Mr Gilmer discriminates against Tom through his treatment of him during his cross examination to prove his culpability. 'The way that man called him "boy" all the time and sneered at him, an' looked around at the jury every time he answered-'. Mr Gilmer uses this despicable treatment of Mr Tom Robinson, a guiltless man, to persuade the jury that Tom is culpable of the crimes he is accused of. His use of the word boy degrades him and illustrates his apparent inferiority. Although he is married with children; Mr Gilmer plunders his right to be called a man and labels him a boy. Mr Gilmer's discourteous habit of constantly glowering at Tom as if he is filth has the effect of appealing to the jury's racist views. His treatment of Tom is disgraceful, repellent and discriminatory, but Tom does not retaliate. His need and want of peace is like that of the mockingbird. Through his constant torment he still hopes for peace.
As a black man whose word is opposing that of both a white man and a white woman, America's racist legacy derived from slavery leaves Tom without any chance of winning the case. 'Simply because we were licked a hundred years before we started is no reason for us not to try to win.' Prior to his taking of the case Atticus recognises the fact that they will not end the trial successfully. Here Atticus is making reference to the consequences of slavery. He acknowledges that it is because of slavery that the word of a black man is less credible to a white jury than that of a white man; he acknowledges the fact that the jury will believe Bob Ewell no matter what evidence there is defending the accused. It is because of Tom Robinson's race that he was found guilty of this crime; no other factors contributed to the verdict. Like the mockingbird Tom had no voice, nothing he could have said or done would have made the jury listen to the truth. Tom is faced with another racist intervention in his life when a gang of white men attempt to lynch him. Their solitary reason being that he is a black man accused of raping a white woman. 'A sickeningly comic aspect of an unfunny situation: the men talked in near-whispers'. The fact that the men talk quietly when Atticus informs them that Tom is sleeping later evokes disgust in Scout because the same men are attempting to murder him. These men care nothing about the lack of truth or evidence, behind the accusation. Each of the men individually know what they are doing is wrong. They only abscond after an individual empathises with a child. Tom Robinson confronts racism through his error; his mistake of truthfully admitting to the jury that he felt sorry for Mayella Ewell. '"You felt sorry for her, you felt sorry for her?"Mr Gilmer seemed ready to rise to the ceiling'. In the Southern states of America during that era it was unthinkable for someone so far down in society, a black man, to even propose feeling sorry for a white woman. The entire white community took it as an insult that a black man would have the ignorance to feel sorry for a white woman, one of them. Mr Gilmer uses this to appeal to the jury's racist facet; it is the effects of that same domineering facet that Tom was convicted. It is Tom's kindness that compelled him to feel sorry for the lonely woman. His kindness relates to the symbol of the mockingbird because kindness is one of the traits the symbol represents.
It is impossible for Tom Robinson to have been culpable for the assault Mayella because of the evidence provided. He has to have been innocent. 'Now there is circumstantial evidence to indicate that Mayella Ewell was beaten savagely by someone who led, almost exclusively, with his left [hand]. And Tom Robinson now sits before you, having taken "The Oath" with the only good hand he possesses -- his right.' All three prosecuting witnesses agree that Mayella Ewell had been beaten up on the right side of her face; this portends that the person who attacked her for the most part, used their left hand. It is impossible for Tom to have beaten up Mayella in accordance to their testimonies because he is crippled. Tom Robinson's left hand had all the muscles ripped from it, thus rendering him incapable of moving it. The witnesses' testimonies suggest that between the time Tom entered the house to the time Mr Heck Tate arrived Mayella had been savagely assaulted. The only eligible person to have committed this crime is the left-handed Mr Bob Ewell, father of the victim. Atticus comments that there is no evidence supporting the assumption that the alleged crime took place; Tom cold not have committed a crime that had never transpired. 'To begin with, this case should never have come to trial. The state has not produced one iota of medical evidence that the crime Tom Robinson is charged with ever took place'. Atticus is interpreting the case as what it actually is. Not a justified trial which attempts to act in accordance with the law but a racial dispute; Tom Robinson is an innocent man. There is no case against Tom Robinson; the suit is based purely on allegations. Atticus knows that Tom is innocent and he begs the jury to believe him when he denies all accusations. 'Now I am confident that you gentlemen will review without passion the evidence that you have heard, come to a decision, and restore this man to his family. In the name of God, do your duty. ..In the name of God, believe him.' Every man on that jury knows that Tom is innocent, it is impossible for him to have committed the crime he is accused of. Atticus is pleading with these men to act on the belief of Tom's innocence because he knows that the only question left to be answered was whether their racist attitudes outweigh their obligation to do the right Christian thing. Tom Robinson is an innocent man. Tom's innocence directly links him to the symbol of the mockingbird as the symbol represents innocence.
Tom Robinson went out of his way to help Mayella Ewell. 'you were mighty polite to do all that chopping and hauling for her boy...That was mighty generous of you'. During his cross examination of Tom, Mr Gilmer describes Tom's relationship with Mayella to be one where he behaved politely and generously. The comments on Tom's character were used in a condescending way; to sarcastically persuade the jury of the unlikelihood of Tom, a black man having such a good nature and implying that he clearly wanted something in return. Nevertheless, although Mr Gilmer tried to manipulate the nature of his actions, even he had to admit that Tom Robinson was helpful towards Mayella Ewell. His generosity and willingness to help others in order to bring them joy indicates his relatability to the mockingbird Atticus also recognises the fact that Tom Robinson was respectful to Mayella Ewell. 'Tom Robinson was probably the only person who was ever decent to her.' Here Atticus is making reference to the fact that Mayella was brought up in a way that made her think that being called 'Ma'am' and 'Miss Mayella' is considered disrespectful. It had previously become apparent that none of her brothers and sisters helped her with any of the housework and it was implied that her father sexually abused her. Atticus when building a picture of her upbringing finds out that she has been very lonely; she had no friends. Using this information he came to the conclusion that Tom was the only person who was kind to her. For this she caused his demise. Mr Underwood thought that murder of Tom Robinson was wrong. 'He likened Tom's death to the senseless slaughter of songbirds' . A repetition of hard, aggressive language is used, to emphasise the atrocity of the scene Mr Underwood depicts. Tom Robinson is depicted as a caged songbird, a caged man, who craved freedom. It was the injustice of his incarceration that fuelled his thirst for freedom. When using the word senseless, Mr Underwood is delineating the insensate nature of the murder. He is commenting on the fact that the murder was pointless, without reason or need. The use of the word slaughter elucidates the fact that he was murdered both savagely and brutally. An alternative interpretation is that (the word slaughter depicting mass murder or genocide) Tom was representing the entire black community or race in the Southern States of America and his murder illustrated their normality. This suggests Tom's use as a vessel and representation of the black community. The use of the word songbirds directly links Tom to the symbol of the mockingbird, and further emphasises the point that his murder was a grave sin.
Another person who is represented through the symbol of the mockingbird, who experiences a different form of prejudice is Arthur 'Boo' Radley. Prior to Jem maturing he describes what he believes to be an accurate exposition of Boo. 'Boo was about six-and-a-half feet tall judging from his tracks; he dined on raw squirrels and any cats he could catch, that's why his hands were blood stained... what teeth he had were yellow and rotten; his eyes popped and he drooled most of the time.' Jem's description of Arthur depicts him as a giant. His description of his source of information and Boo's diet implies that Boo is a savage beast. Jem's comments on Boo's behaviour insinuate the fantasy that Boo is suffering from a mental illness. This childish image of Boo had been imprinted on to his mind, he envisions of Boo as less than a human. Although this image is an inaccurate and immature one, it is similar to those of the majority of the community. Very few have seen Boo in the past fifteen years yet the entire town has assumed that he is a troglodyte based on gossip and rumours. The assumption held about the nature and appearance of Boo Radley is completely wrong and completely contradicts the reality. 'They were white hands, sickly white hands that had never seen the sun, so white they stood out garishly against the dull cream wall in the dim light of Jem's room...his face was as white as his hands, but for a shadow on his jutting chin. His cheeks were thin to hollowness; his mouth was wide; there were shallow, almost delicate indentations at his temples, and his grey eyes were so colourless I thought he was blind. His hair was dead, and thin, almost feathery on top of his head.' Upon witnessing Boo's appearance, Scout's view on Boo alters; her factual description of Boo completely contradicts the childish theory of his appearance. His blood stained hands are actually pale and white like the rest of his skin. The hollowness of his cheeks and temple indentations illustrate his fragility and his dead and thin hair resembles that of a baby's. Arthur is nothing like the way he was portrayed to be; he is the antithesis of the character his society has fabricated. This relates to the symbol of the mockingbird because of the unavoidable likelihood of being misunderstood as a result of the inability to speak for one's self.
Boo Radley always tried to do good within the community; he tried to be courteous and polite. 'I remember Arthur Radley as a boy. He always spoke nicely to me, no matter what folks said he did. Spoke as nicely as he knew how'. During Boo Radley youth boy it was known to everyone in the community bar his father that he became involved with the Cunninghams who were the 'nearest thing to a gang ever formed in Maycomb'. The connotations of the word gang lead us to believe that they are intimidating menacing and troublesome. Miss Maudie, another respectable character in the novel reveals the fact that that Boo tried to be mannerly towards her; this suggests the possibility that Boo was never taught how to behave in society. It is also an example of one of his frequent attempts to do the right thing. Although, Boo is a recluse, those that do know him understand his reliance on the anti-social nature of his way of life; he is excessively susceptible to attention. 'draggin' him with his shy ways into the limelight-to me, that's a sin'. Mr Heck Tate recognises the immorality of publically recognising Boo's affiliation with an act of altruism. He empathises with Boo in the way that he recognises the potency of the effect it would have on him, which is why he is so averse to exposing him to the community. Boo's fragility suggests that the horror of exposition could kill him; this is why it is such a nefarious act to do so. Boo does not explain this to Atticus himself as he is incapable of his own defence and relies on Mr Heck Tate for it. 'A strange small spasm shook him, as if he heard fingernails scrape slate'. Alliteration is used in the form of as simile to show Boo's immense susceptibility to the possibility of being seen. Any inclination of being found out or seen shakes him, the tiniest sound affects him, and this suggests that his fragility is so immense that being seen could critically impair his mental health.
The community make up ridiculous stories about Boo because of their lack of understanding of the way he chooses to live his life. 'As Mr Radley passed by, Boo drove the scissors into his parent's leg, pulled them out, wiped them onto his pants and resumed his activities'. Miss Stephanie Crawford is a quidnunc; she is the neighbourhood scold and is very informant in her revelation of Arthur's apparent attempt to murder his parents. Her disclosure depicts a vicious, mentally unstable tyrant. The entire story is a lie, made up because of her lack of understanding of the factors that result in Boo's reluctance to integrate with the community; she doesn't understand his way of life. It is because of the lack of understanding that entire community believes these malicious rumours she has created about this inculpable man. She is consciously discriminating against him. Boo is unable to contradict her because like the mockingbird he has no voice of his own. Innocent children are being influenced by the stories about Arthur and also discriminate against him. 'I've seen his tracks in our back yard many a mornin', and one night I heard him scratching on the back screen, but he was gone time Atticus got there.' The children believe without a doubt that Arthur is this monster they have heard about, they are judging this man from his footprints even though they have never seen him. They are unaware of the immorality of their actions. Their discrimination of Arthur stems from their lack of understanding of the reasons he chooses to live as a recluse. The fact that he is a recluse makes it near impossible for their assumptions to be proven wrong; his lack of voice renders him incapable of his own defence. Unaware of the decadence of their actions children add to the desecration of Boo's character and ridicule him. 'we were not to play an asinine game of make fun of anybody on this street of in this town...putting his life's history on display for the edification of the neighbourhood.' The children have a habit of constructing plays of different topics relating to their everyday influences to keep them occupied, as they have no money for toys. They are unaware of the fact that by composing plays on what they've heard about Boo's life, they are contributing to the ongoing desecration and ridicule of Arthur's character. They are an example that even innocent bystanders are absorbing the prejudice and discrimination of Boo that is rife in Maycomb. The fact that Atticus defends Boo shows that he acknowledges the fact that the rumours are false. Atticus' voice is used supplement that of Boo due to the fact that he has no voice of his own.
On the way to school the children pass the Radley house, on the verge of the front garden lay a tree with a knot-hole in the side of the trunk. The children are the only people who have the courage to pass the tree because the rest of the community avoid it out of their fear of both Boo and a foul, old morphine addict called Mrs Dubose, who lived on the same road. Boo used this knot hole as a vessel through which he gave a number of gifts to the children. 'Some tin-foil was sticking in a knot-hole...two pieces of chewing gum'. Chewing gum was a luxury during the great depression. The vast majority was poor and although the children were better off than some, they could not afford to buy chewing gum. Boo's reclusive nature suggests the likelihood of his unemployment. His self-sacrificing and loving nature is displayed through his act of providing the children with a luxury at a time during which money was a scarcity. This act of love and self-sacrifice even contradicts that of their middle classed father who deemed the spending of money on such frivolities to be unaffordable. Boo's gift to the children illustrates the fact that his love for the children is such a domineering quality that he is willing to sacrifice his necessities for their pleasure. His qualities of self sacrifice love and generosity link directly to that of the mockingbird. The second gift Boo left the children in the knot-hole was two Indian Head coins. 'Indian-heads...Nineteen-six and Scout, one of 'em's nineteen-hundred. These are really old'. Upon their realisation of what the gifts were, the children's primary response is their recognition of the age and value of the coins. They immediately understand the fact that these coins are a precious treasured possession and must be and 'important to somebody'. The fact that coins were shined and polished indicates the possibility of someone taking the time to preserve them. Their trait of bringing good luck shows the coins to be special; the fact that Boo gave them to the children shows his generosity; another quality shared with the mockingbird. The third gift left in the knot-hole was a pair of soap dolls, figurines of Jem and Scout. ' I pulled out two small figures carved in soap..."these are us"'. The childrens' instantaneous recognition of themselves through the features of the doll suggests Boo's occupation with observing the children. The fact that the dolls appear to have been well configured and seem to be the best the children had ever seen which instigates Boo having spent a lot of time working on his gift before it being presented to the children. Another gift given to the children was a spelling Bee medal. 'tarnished medal'. The medal was a prized possession and important to Boo as he had won the medal at the time when he was embraced by society. It shows his love for the children and that he is a trusting person because of the fact that he entrusted them with one of his very few links to his time integrated in society. Boo's gift reveals one of his accomplishments to the children; it suggests the possibility of him wanting them to know something about him which he's proud of. He doesn't want their vision of him to be solely based on the rumours about him of which he knows they are. He wants to show that he is good at something. The last gift Boo left in the knot hole was a pocket watch on a chain and a knife. 'pocket watch that wouldn't run, on a chain with an aluminium knife'. Previously in the novel Atticus told Jem that is was traditional for the first born son to be given a watch when he came of age; this suggests Boo was given this watch by his father before his reclusion and at a time where his father was proud of him. After conferring with Atticus Jem realises the value of the watch. The fact that Boo would give the children such a prized family heirloom at a time of an economical crisis shows the confidence he has in the children, as well as the love he has for them because the gift shows that he thinks of them as his own children. His ability to love the Scout and Jem, although he has never met them illustrates his connection to traits of the mockingbird and suggests that the symbol is representative of his character.
Boo tries to safeguard the children individually; he even risks exposure in order to protect them. 'looks like all of Maycomb was out tonight, in one way or another'. Upon Scout's return home after witnessing the burning of Miss Maudie's house on a winter evening she realises the fact that she is unaware of how she acquired the blanket she wore whilst re-entering the house. The most she remembered was her constant shivering and the painful winds that froze her skin when standing outside the Radley house. She does not yet realise the fact that, seeing her cold Boo crept up behind her and draped the blanket over her shoulders. Atticus, who understands Boo's kind nature, realises this instantly. This action shows that Boo is not a monster but a kind person, the entire town had evacuated their houses that night and there were a number of people who could have seen him. The action shows self-sacrifice on his part because even though he is terrified of it, he risked exposure in order to protect Scout from the cold. 'when I went back they were folded across the fence...like they were expectin' me'. To save Jem from being reprimanded by Atticus, Boo takes the trousers Jem was forced to leave behind during his escape. He sews up the hole in his trouser leg to cover up the evidence of his activities and lays them on the fence to make it easier for Jem to collect them. It was critical that he did this because if Jem's trousers were found in the Radley garden in the morning he would have been beaten for the first time by Atticus and if Jem had been seen going into the Radley garden to collect his trousers, he'd have been shot by Mr Radley looking for a 'white nigger'. This shows that Boo is caring and considerate as he risks sacrificing his obscuration to protect Jem. There was an immense likelihood of Boo being seen creeping into the garden to retrieve the trousers. If he had been detected, because the identity of the intruder was unknown to Mr Radley, Boo would have been shot.
The final gift Boo gives the children is their lives through his rescuing them from Bob Ewell. 'do his utmost to prevent a crime from being committed... which is exactly what he did'. Here Mr Heck Tate is commenting on the fact that when Bob Ewell tried to murder the children Boo left the confines of his house to save them. This act is an immense sacrifice for Boo as he hasn't done so in over 15 years. It was a selfless act because of Boo's fragility arguably less than either of the children and the possibility of him being critically injured as Bob was armed with a kitchen knife. This act shows Boo to be both heroic and gallant and shows that he loves the children. Boo did what he thought was the right thing to do; this proves that the perception society had of Boo is wrong. Boo is human, he is loving, kind and selfless. All these qualities echo those of the mockingbird. Scout correlates the exposition of Boo Radley to the killing of a mockingbird 'Well,it'dbesortoflikeshootin' amockingbird, wouldn't it?' . It is through the innocence of this child as well as her maturity and ability to empathise that she concludes Boo a representative of the mockingbird symbol. She assimilates that Boo's qualities are an echo of that of the mockingbird and she acknowledges the didactic message that stems from her father's ethic on the immorality of killing a mockingbird. Boo Radley did nothing but try to save the children; Scout acknowledges the profligateness of exposing him for doing so. She understands the effects exposition could have one Boo and concludes that it is a sin to kill a mockingbird; it would be a sin to kill Boo Radley.
In the novel, to kill a mockingbird two characters are represented by the symbol of the mockingbird, Tom Robinson and Arthur 'Boo' Radley. Tom Robinson is a respectable and reliable member of society and employee, he supported his family and he was respected enough that his employer, Mr Link Deas was loyal to him, even after his death. His traits of respectability, willingness to do good in the community and his nature of being kind, helpful and loving towards his family, his employer and even Mayella Ewell reflect the qualities of the mockingbird. As a black man Tom Robinson never protested his own innocence to the white community or retaliated to their frequent insults; he answered when questioned but was reliant on the voices of both Mr Link Deas and Atticus to be heard. Innocence is another attribute of the mockingbird; it is the innocence of Tom Robison in comparison to the innocence of the mockingbird as well as his other qualities and inability to speak for themselves that associates the two. Tom Robinson was a good man and he was being discriminated against because of his race. Arthur 'Boo' Radley was a misunderstood caring man who protected the Finch children the best he could. The fact that Boo also has no voice of his own and relies on that of Miss Maudie, Heck Tate and Atticus also likens him to the symbol of the mockingbird. Boo is a white man who was discriminated against by a community that did not understand his way of life. He suffered because he was victimised by a society who were wrong about him. He was also an innocent man; all the fabricated rumours about him were false, his innocence links him to the symbol of the mockingbird as well as his ability to love the Radley children before meeting them shown through his gifts and his self-sacrifice in protecting them. Both Tom Robinson, a black man and Arthur 'Boo' Radley, a white man are wrongly discriminated against. Both cases are wrong and the use of the mockingbird symbol is that which links the two to prove that discrimination against a white man and discrimination against a black man is equally wrong.