Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Focus #6 - Symbols

To unlock a novel's underlying symbolism and themes, readers must explore the things relevant to a character. Harper Lee uses images and characters to stand for something above and beyond what they represent at first reading. These symbols have special importance — they are interpretive keys to the text.
Discovering the symbolism involves moving from “footlocker full of dusty facts” (Probst, 1988) to active meaning making by fostering personal connections rather than the "one" right answer.


Discuss the following:
  • How is the mockingbird a central symbol in the novel?
  • How does this warning relate to the other events of the story?

With your group, discuss and record your knowledge of To Kill A Mockingbird's symbolism. The following questions may be used to guide your response.

  • How does the exploration of the mockingbird shed light on other elements of the story? Explain.
  • Use the chart to record your thoughts about what each of the character names symbolizes and tells the reader about the character.
  • What does it mean to be an individual in society?
  • Does Atticus' character align with the stereotypical view of masculinity? Explain your answer thoroughly.

Groups engage in discussion to extend and apply knowledge. Each group must examine all viewpoints, agree on a response, and justify their response using details from readings.


  1. A mockingbird in the story symbolizes when we read the title of the book, "To kill a Mockingbird" we realize that the innocence of a bird or character such as Jem, Dill, and Tom Robinson has been destroyed.
    There is also a central theme of birds throughout the book including Scout, Jem, and Atticus' last name, Finch. A finch is a small bird, vulnerable just like Jem and Scout.

  2. I think that Tom represents the mockingbird in the story since they say earlier that it is a sin to kill a mockingbird, and when Tom is killed, he is killed as if he were "an innocent songbird." When this happens, Atticus gets very emotional, which doesn't align with the stereotypical view of masculinity. Atticus is more emotional and thinks deeply about things unlike most "manly" men.

  3. One of the main symbols in the book was the mockingbird. The mockingbird is said to be an innocent, harmless bird and its murder is looked down upon. It is considered a sin to kill one of these precious birds. The mockingbird in this novel represents Tom Robinson. Tom was convicted of raping and beating Miss Ewell. In reality, Tom had infact not raped Miss Ewell but, no one believed him beacuse he was black. The mockingbird was a symbol for Tom because they both are innocent and do nothing wrong, and niether deserve to die.

  4. I don't think he raped her

  5. The truth is that Tom never touched Miss. Ewell, she kissed him and her daddy found out and hit her for it. The fact is you could only kiss a old uncle and not a young buck back then in the olden days. Miss. Ewell broke the code because she was (parden my french)a "slut".

  6. The symbolism I notice is that the mocking bird is said to be a bird that is just for good. All it does is make music. Unlike Blue Jays, the mockingbird does not steal other bird's food, sleep in corn cribs (otherwise you could say "trespassing") and being pest. So in a way the mockingbird could stand as a white man because they are "innocent", and the blue jay is a bird of color, just as a man of color. So the blue jay represents the blacks trespassing in people's yards and doing wrong, according to this era.

  7. Samantha Jennings- Johnson 6November 25, 2009 at 7:24 PM

    The mockingbird is the major symbol in this novel. The whole book is centered around this bird of flight. It mainly relates to Tom Robinson, who is accused of rape. In previous chapers to Tom's trial, when Jem and Scout recieve guns for Christmas, Miss Maudie, a neighbor, explains the importance of the mockingbird. The kids want to shoot the magnificient birds, but Miss Maudie in simpler terms says that the bird does nothing wrong and doesn't deserve to die, and that it's a sin to kill one. The boys then refrain from killing the bird. Then, the realization that the bird stands for Tom becomes clear in followiong chapters. Tom, the man accused of rape, in fact did not rape anyone, so there for is innocent, just like the bird. It then goes on to faciliate that the bird relates to Tom once again because how it's a sin to kill something/someone innocent. Overall, throughout the novel I recieved the impression that the mockingbird was mainly a symbol for Tom Robinson, although it may represent other things through out the novel, that was my interpretation.

  8. Atticus's character is a lawyer and he's defending a black man in a case that involves a white woman and he's showing that "it doesn't matter what color you are we are all equal" when everyone else is saying that blacks are nothing but slaves

  9. a mockingbird is the symbol because its a sin to shoot a mockingbird. its something innocent that is destroied for no reason is why its the symbol. because of tom robinson. to be an individual in the society means that your the only one. your all by yourself and there is nothing to help you out.

  10. To be a symbol in society means to leave a place of your own. Atticus does not show normal signs of masculin. He does not shoot guns, he doesnt like fighting or gambling or drinking. He also enjoys reading. This is completely different then other men in that day.

  11. Final Post - Focus #6
    To be an individual in society can be a person that is very kept to themselves and and to not really talk to anyone but still blame others. Someone like this in the book could be Mr. Ewell. Atticus has been getting older but may align with a masculine guy because he may not be doing things guys would do like hunting or even carrying a gun.
    Katie Kreye


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