To Kill a Mockingbird (To Kill a Mockingbird, #1) To Kill a Mockingbird discussion


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message 1: by Samuel (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:02AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Samuel This is one of my favorite books. My cat's name is Scout after Miss Jean Louise. It's been on my mind lately because I'm studying race in the US during the period when the book takes place. In the shower the other morning, a question crossed my mind. Is there a metaphorical relationship between the story of Boo Radley and the story of Tom Robinson? Does Boo's character stand as a metaphor for the South in the years between Reconstruction and Civil Rights? Or am I reading too much in to a simple story. I promise that this is not something I have been assigned to think about (although I think it would make a great test question). But if anyone has ideas, I'd love to hear them.


message 2: by Mandy (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:02AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mandy I don't think Boo is a metaphor for the south during Reconstruction and Civil Rights. If you're going to concentrate on Boo and Tom Robinson, I would concentrate on them being mockingbirds, and that they are precious to our society. They do nothing but sing just like mockingbirds. I also think that Harper Lee uses them to show that the few and the great people in our world, are the people who you least expect them to be.


message 3: by Lydon (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:03AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lydon I agree that looking at them as metaphors for mockingbirds is probably more accurate, but the book is steeped in the echoes of reconstruction.
If you see something in the novel, there's nothing invalid about that. Reading is, after all, about constructing new meaning from a text.
I'm teaching this book to my 7th graders and they're always finding interesting new things.

On a more personal and less academic note, I love this book - I think the world would be a better place if everyone kept a copy on their nightstands, you know?
It's too bad most people leave it behind in grade school.


message 4: by Jonelle (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:06AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jonelle taking the Mockingbird methaphor further...Boo and Tom (and Dill to some extent) are mockingbirds not just in the 'they don't harm anyone' but also in the sense that they are reflection of what is around them--they absorb the mores and society's views and become sort of reflections or mimics of them....never truly only themselves and never truly the thing they imitate... (does that make sense?)


Rika I think it could perharps. But I would say post reconstruction to civil rights. In the sense that Boo was suppressed just like blacks were, and most of them were mostly inconspicuous just as Boo was ,until the civil rights era because the world was not a pleasant place for them.How people discounted blacks thought of the as inhuman feared what was strange and not as common, also doubles up as Boo. I see the metaphor your seeing.


Ashley I agree that Boo, Tom, and even Dill could be mockingbirds, but I feel that Jem is actually the true mockingbird of this classic. Throughout the entire book, he always helps Scout and tries to be the best brother he can be, and in the end, he is the one who is laid up in bed, hurt. He never does anything to harm anyone, and he is just like the mockingbird in the sense that he got hurt just because someone decided it was the thing to do.


Carla Do you see maybe the mockingbird as a symbol of innocence of goodness within a person, that once we see, once we do something.. it kills that part? Therefore can be associated to many of the characters within the book.


message 8: by Viviana D. (last edited Jul 12, 2011 11:08PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Viviana D. Otero Samuel wrote: "This is one of my favorite books. My cat's name is Scout after Miss Jean Louise. It's been on my mind lately because I'm studying race in the US during the period when the book takes place. In the ..."

I think you may have a point. Harper Lee was a master of symbolism in her only and last book. I do think, however, that there may be more of a connection between Tom Robinson and Jim from Huck Finn. Each man was a pure and loving man in the world only to be persecuted by the evils of a racist society. Boo Radley represented the child-like mind of a person who saw beyond color, and for many reasons; made his own self-conscious conclusions about the human race without the evil influences of others.

I instructed this book for years in a high school classroom, and you are the first that made that observation. Great Job!

Off course there is the symbol of the Mockingbird, but there is much more to the novel than "It's a sin to kill" such a wonderful creature--a gift from God.


message 9: by Kevin (last edited Jul 15, 2011 07:46AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kevin I agree with what everyone is saying, and just wanted to add that I think its another tribute to Harper Lee that she has such meaningful themes running throughout, what on the surface, seems a straightforward story. My concern is that people do not read past the words. I think at its core it is about loss of innocence. A very profound statement about the adult world and how we discriminate not only because of color (Tom), but by what makes us uncomfortable, no matter what color (Boo). Society dictates this, but it starts with the individual. Tom and Boo are definitely mockingbirds - They don't do anything to anyone but are wonderful creations with their own value to share.


Viviana D. Otero Kevin wrote: "I agree with what everyone is saying, and just wanted to add that I think its another tribute to Harper Lee that she has such meaningful themes running throughout, what on the surface, seems a stra..."

I agree Kevin, but I will also add that these types of prejudices are taught. My parents WHERE extremely racist only because their parents taught them so.

But wait! I was taught the same. And I chose not to teach prejudice to my own child. SO...YOU ARE CORRECT! It start with the individual--great point!


Wendy Okay - I have to say that if you have seen my other posts, you know that this is one of my favorite books. But, couldn't it be that what Harper Lee wrote about is just what she knew and that it isn't a symbol for something else?

I read "Mockingbird" by Charles J. Shields and the impression that I was left with is that Ms. Lee wrote a book about a man that she very much admired - her father - and that Atticus Finch is a portrait of him. Bo Radley is also, I believe, either a real person or rendering of a few personalities from her childhood.

For me, when I read the book, I see each of these characters as real people and don't know that we need to ask ourselves if they are a metaphor of anything.

That doesn't mean, however, that I am Kevin's person who does not read past the words. I guess what I am trying to say is that, maybe we don't need to dive in and look for a hidden meaning and perhaps the scruitiny of people looking for a meaning where none was intended is what has prevented Ms. Lee from publishing another book.

I think it would be rather intimidating if I set out to tell a simple story and suddenly people all over started to attach their own meaning to my words...


message 12: by Kevin (last edited Jul 18, 2011 10:26AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kevin Wendy wrote, " But, couldn't it be that what Harper Lee wrote about is just what she knew and that it isn't a symbol for something else?"

I believe that most authors, and artists, for that matter, create from experience instead of thinking about all the symbols. As human beings, I think we look for meaning in just about everythin - trying to understand this life. Even though the author might not have thought that way, does not, and should not dissuade the reader from looking for "meaning" or drawing some conclusions from what they read.

When we read, we start to ask questions in our heads. We should strive to answer them. This is why I love to read - some one is sharing something very personal with me, and it may entertain me, and it may disgust me, and it may cause me to think about something I have never thought about before - the important thing to me is it caused me to think. I don't have to like it, but if I am investing the time, I should try to understand it. Hopefully, by reading whatever it is makes me and others better, richer people.

Whether characters in a book or just reality, we all stand for something (sorry, sounds corny). Thank God that we are all so different! Makes things very interesting. I admire all artists who really tear out their hearts and souls for all to see. That's courage!


Kressel Housman I think all the talk about symbolism is just to fill English classes. Better lessons come from biographies of the authors. I think classes should read the novels and biographies in tandem.


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