To Kill a Mockingbird To Kill a Mockingbird question


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What does the quote it's a sin to kill a mockingbird mean in your opinion?
Paola Paola Dec 12, 2012 09:06PM
In my opinion the mockingbirds were a symbolism of people and what Atticus was saying was that it was a sin to not only kill but harm those who have not harmed us.



I think "It is a sin to kill a mockingbird" refers to the childhood innocence lost during the course of what these children discover concerning the evils men do to each other. We all reach a point in our early lives where we lose our innocence, but sometimes that loss is forced upon us too soon, whether intentionally or simply accidental. The children in this book start out very innocent, but by the end, they no longer have that innocence, and once it's lost, it's gone forever!


I think part of the meaning of "it's a sin to kill a mockingbird" involves innocence. But more specifically, mockingbirds imitate the songs of other birds, so it would be a sin to kill a mockingbird based on the sound it produces. It is just mimicking what it hears. Sometimes, people, especially children, imitate ideas and behaviors of others without fully understanding them. It would be wrong to persecute that child for believing ideas (such as racism) that were those of the parents. The child has innocence.


I think really to quote refers to the double symbolism of the mockingbird. On one level it represents Tom Robinson, who is a harmless victim of racism. On another level it represents Boo Radley, who is also a harmless victim of prejudice, actually turns out to be a sensitive and caring individual--after all he does save Jem and Scout from Bob Ewell.


Monty J (last edited Jun 13, 2013 12:36PM ) Mar 08, 2013 05:47PM   2 votes
I could mean that some creatures are special and deserve protecting, but it's a confusing metaphor that implies it's okay to discriminate.

From the book: [Atticus] "Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit 'em, but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird."

Tom Robinson was vulnerable on four counts, because he was black, uneducated and poor, gentle of spirit and because he had only one good arm.

Boo Radley was poor and uneducated and mentally retarded and gentle of spirit.

Bob Ewell was poor and undeducated but cruel; so does that mean he's a "bluejay?"

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Kim After reading your comment about the need to discriminate between what can be killed and what should not, I again come back to Jill's comment above re...more
Apr 09, 2014 11:35PM

To me I felt like it was advocating for tolerance. You might not agree with someone or the way things are but that's no reason for you to harm or destroy them especially when they are completely innocuous.


A mockingbird is a songbird, that does no harm and provides only beauty. To kill something harmless and beautiful would be wrong.


There are no one single interpretation but I personally think it means harming an innocent person is an immoral thing to do. In the book's context, there are several people whom you can identify as mockingbirds - Jem, Boo Radley and Tom Robinson


I always felt Harper Lee left this as an incomplete thought on purpose. Through reading the book, and seeing the full extent of Atticus Finch's integrity, I feel like the complete thought would be something like "To kill a mocking bird is a sin, but to allow it to be killed is even worse." Atticus knew he was fighting a futile fight. He knew that he would never be allowed to win and set a black man free from what he was being accused of. But he also knew he'd never be able to live with himself or face his children had he not attempted to do the right thing. He knew there were others in his community that doubted Tom Robinson's guilt, but that they would never say anything about it, and would allow a mockingbird to be killed due to the sheer weight of condemnation. So it was up to him to stand against that sort of mindset, and show a community, even in futility, that integrity is doing what is right despite what it could mean to one's personal reputation or well-being.


That it is a sin to harm, kill something that does nothing but good things. A mockingbird makes music,and Tom Robinson was a good man.


Birds interest me, and I like to sit with my family and watch the behavior of birds in our yard. It seems that each breed has its own personality. In our yard, I have seen bluejays gang up on other birds and attack and bully other birds. Mockingbirds are song birds, and although they are territorial of their nests, they otherwise leave other birds alone. They only fight back in self defense.


The line "It is a sin to kill a mockingbird" has a lot behind it, and it is impossible to decipher it all. But to me, it is saying that all mockingbirds do is sing. They don't do anything wrong to you. They are just innocent creatures trying to get along. In this way, Scout is a mockingbird. She is trying to help out, and she is innocent. To take this away would be a sin, but in the end it has to happen. So, in a way, you need to sin in order to grow up. It is just a part of life.
Of course, my opinions on this quote have changed a lot in the past year, and anybody can think of it differently.


I always took it as a symbol of someone or something that does nothing but good. The central tenant would then be, "don't harm someone who is inoffensive." The application of the moral to Arthur Radley makes perfect sense in this light. He is an inoffensive person who would be killed by the attention that a murder trial would bring.


I've come to my own personal conclusion that a mockingbird is more than someone who is innocent, but rather someone who can't actually do anything for themselves. The mockingbird simply sings because it doesn't know how to do anything else. Before this realization I thought that Atticus was a mockingbird, simply because he does good for others and nothing good comes of it. He defends Tom, and Tom still dies. I think that can still partially be true, but not entirely because Atticus DOES defend Tom, and does the best that he can. He still can fight for Tom. The real mockingbirds are Tom and Boo because they haven't been taught and can't do anything but simply be good and kind. That's why it's a sin to kill them.


I take the passage as a whole to mean "address the sources of dischord (the bluejay), but don't hold those who are simply mimicking it (the mockingbirg) to the same judgement, as they're also capable of magnifying beauty and goodness." As this is actually the title of the book, I'd think it's a pretty important theme, and not a bad practice in general.


I will have to look back at it. I took it to mean some things are in this world with a simple task or purpose. Maybe that task is to sing a beautiful song. ...the importance of simplicity? Maybe Atticus was pointing out that everyone has a place in this world and we cannot judge? Don't act harshly against someone we do not understand? Now, I'll look back at other people's comments. :)


For me, the mockingbird is a symbol of expression, of speech. You don't kill or suppress this freedom.


What I want to know is whether Suzanne Collins' mockingjay symbol is a nod to Harper Lee's mockingbird.

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Kim See my comment on Monty J's posting above. There are many parallels.
Apr 09, 2014 11:39PM

In my view, this title is, quite simply, the genius of our era. The mockingbird is a symbol of innocence and purity, as birds, such as doves, so often are. The quote "Shoot all the blue jays you want, if you can hit 'em, but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird.” is saying that it s sinful to harm anything so beautiful and pure, when it has done nothing wrong to you, only sing sweetly. It also relates to the theme of discrimination in the novel, the black citizens and Boo Radley being the mockingbirds; they have done nothing wrong, but we feel that we have to harm them, for no just cause. The title of the novel is a summary, a summary which relates to all of the main themes expressed in the novel: prejudice, discrimination and the innocence and inevitable loss of childhood. Hope this helps :)


There's a lot rolled up into it but to me at its most basic principle it means do no harm to the innocent, to those who haven't "sinned" against you.

In the larger context of the complete story that his father had told him I think it means there are times when you have to carefully consider the consequences of your actions.


”It's a sin to kill a mockingbird" means you shouldn't harm the innocent . The mockingbird represents the innocent one has , mockingbirds dont cause a danger for anyone so we in turn shouldn't hurt or bring down those who are pure at heart.


link to pdf


"It is a sin to kill a mockingbird" is more than about killing someone innocent, it's about innocence like an infant- the infant can do no good or bad, but lives and needs to be nurtured and protected much like a mockingbird who simply sings for us, it does no good or bad- if you take that innocence or hurt it in any way, it's wrong.


I thought the mockingbird was innocence. Not just that they haven't put offense against you, but in general they are not "bad" and shouldn't be handed such a sentencing.


Nichola (last edited Dec 20, 2012 03:54PM ) Dec 20, 2012 03:53PM   0 votes
I figured it to mean its a sin to kill/ punish something innocent just because it irritates you.


Paola wrote: "In my opinion the mockingbirds were a symbolism of people and what Atticus was saying was that it was a sin to not only kill but harm those who have not harmed us."

That was my interpretation when my class discussed it. Killing a mockingbird would be killing or imprisoning something innocent and harmless.


I always thought of it as killing something innocent. A mockingbird exemplifies a creature that is harmless and beautiful, just like the characters in the book who are hated simply because of their appearance. They are judged and ridiculed and killed because of their differences, regardless of the fact that they are innocent and harmless. They're misunderstood. It should be a sin to bring harm to anyone or anything just because it's misunderstood.


John (last edited Jan 15, 2013 04:44PM ) Jan 15, 2013 04:42PM   0 votes
It means Atticus would rather see the kids shoot tin cans.

Failing that, they could shoot all the Bluejays they wanted, if they could hit 'em.

But for some reason shooting Mockingbirds was a sin.

To recap:

Tin cans - Cool.
Bluejays - No problemo.
Mockingbirds - Verboten.


"It is a sin to kill a mockingbird" to me means that you shouldn't kill/punish something that is only doing what comes natural to them. Something innocent. If they don't do anything to you, why would you do something to them?


It is a sin to falsely accuse someone and punish them for it.


I feel the meaning is never hurt some one who is very innocent and harmless and to some extent helpless like Boo Radley


I grew up in Mississippi, where our state bird is the mockingbird. It is against the LAW to kill a mockingbird (or was back then, anyway). Breaking the law, of course, being a sin the eyes of some (especially my Southern Baptist momma), so we were raised to never harm a mockingbird. Ever. And, yes, bluejays were fair game, but you ever try to hit a bluejay with a BB gun? Good luck.

I never read an awful lot of symbolism into that line. I took it as an article of faith that you don't harm mockingbirds.


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