We use cookies to give you the best experience possible. By continuing we’ll assume you’re on board with our cookie policy

To Kill a Mockingbird – The Death of Innocence Essay Sample

The whole doc is available only for registered users OPEN DOC

A limited time offer!

Get a custom sample essay written according to your requirements urgent 3h delivery guaranteed

Order Now

To Kill a Mockingbird – The Death of Innocence Essay Sample

Harper Lee uses the mockingbird theme with both Boo Radley and Tom Robinson as examples and with fears and superstitions attacked to the mockingbird and both characters.

A mockingbird is defined as long-tailed grey-and-white songbird of the southern United States who is able to mimic songs of other birds. They give the book its title and are an important recurring theme in the novel, although nobody in the story ever kills a mockingbird or gives tips on how do to it, like the title implies. The mockingbird represents several characters in the story and it stands for the innocence they used to have. To kill the mockingbird epitomizes the idea of destroying a person’s innocence.

Mockingbirds are pretty, chirpy birds and all they do is sing. They never harm anybody and only give others the gift of their enjoyable music and expect nothing in return. That is why killing them is a sin. Atticus teaches Jem to not shoot at mockingbirds with his gun and this is the only time the phrase is used literally, ‘Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit ’em, but remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird’.

There are several characters whose innocence is damaged or shattered in the story. The most tragic example is that of Boo Radley. Arthur ‘Boo’ Radley is part of the Radley household and Scout, Jem and Dill are morbidly fascinated by him. He has never left his house and there is a kind of urban legend that circulates around Maycomb involving his reclusion. Apparently he stabbed his father on the leg with a pair of scissors and is sent to jail. When he returned home, he never left his house again.

Despite being feared by most of the citizens in Maycomb, he is kind to Scout and Jem and leaves them gifts in the tree interlocking their homes. He helped Jem recover his pants and almost literally, left them in a silver plate for him. However, Boo Radley was shunned by his society by some rumors his father spread in order to appear as a victim. Boo Radley’s purity was destroyed by his father.

Tom’s innocence was probably shattered long before the plot of the book, considering he was a black man, a slave, and accustomed to the abuse from white people. However, he is nevertheless used as a metaphorical mockingbird, for Bob Ewell was a complete monster that completely ruined his life, even though Tom only served him and his family. Ewell condemned him, an innocent man, to death to try and avoid the shame of his daughter’s sexual advances towards a black man and of the beating he gave his daughter after he walked in on said advances made public because he knows that Maycomb County’s racist population will play along. And later, after he is publicly humiliated in the wake of Tom Robinson’s trial, he lashes out at those involved with the trial, and among other things sexually harasses Tom’s recently widowed wife, breaks into the judge’s house with the implied intention of lying in wait to ambush him, and attempts to slit Scout and Jem’s throats with a switchblade as they walk home from a school play.

Jem grows up during the course of the story and experiences a transition in his personality when he shifts from childhood into adolescence. His development is also a product of the ‘killing of his innocence’. His life-changing experience at Tom Robinson’s trial occurs just as he is entering puberty, a time when life is complicated and traumatic enough. His disappointment upon seeing that justice does not always prevail leaves him vulnerable and confused at a critical, formative point in his life.

Atticus helps him get through this, and later, Jem comes to the realization that there is still some good in people thanks to Boo Radley, who gave him and his sister several presents, saved their life once, and never expected anything in return.

A final character that was a victim of his innocence being destroyed was Mr. Dolphus Raymond. He was infamous in Maycomb for living with his black mistress and having mulatto children, even though he was white. Raymond pretends to be a drunk so that the citizens of Maycomb will have an explanation for his behavior. In reality, he is simply jaded by the hypocrisy of white society and prefers living among blacks.

Even among elder characters, the loss of innocence is an important subject. Boo Radley is the embodiment of the title of the book, for he was a gentle man who gave without expecting favors in return, and yet he was ‘killed’ by his father. For Jem, it marked his growth into adulthood by his recognition that the world was not as fair as he had always thought it had been. Mr. Raymond, although barely seen, is a perfect example of how the society can corrupt a person, to the point of destroying his faith in humanity, or his innocence. The innocence of Tom Robinson was not wrecked in the same way that it was for the other characters, and neither was it the same kind of innocence the other characters dealt with. The way Ewell continuously tried to convict a man who always served him and who was innocent of all the charges he was accused of is a clear example on how his innocence was also destroyed.

We can write a custom essay

According to Your Specific Requirements

Order an essay
Get Access To The Full Essay
Materials Daily
100,000+ Subjects
2000+ Topics
Free Plagiarism
All Materials
are Cataloged Well

Sorry, but copying text is forbidden on this website. If you need this or any other sample, we can send it to you via email.

By clicking "SEND", you agree to our terms of service and privacy policy. We'll occasionally send you account related and promo emails.
Sorry, but only registered users have full access

How about getting this access

Become a member

Your Answer Is Very Helpful For Us
Thank You A Lot!


Emma Taylor


Hi there!
Would you like to get such a paper?
How about getting a customized one?

Can't find What you were Looking for?

Get access to our huge, continuously updated knowledge base

The next update will be in:
14 : 59 : 59
Become a Member