Harper Lee’s Mockingbirds and Education

The mockingbird symbolizes innocence. Birds in general tend to symbolize freedom but the mockingbird in particular is particularly innocent and free. Perhaps, unlike bluejays who interfere with people’s lives and eat their gardens or nest in the wrong places, mockingbirds cause no trouble. Mockingbirds bring only joy to the world and take nothing away. As a symbol of innocence, the mockingbird is representative of Tom. Therefore, killing something innocent is the most barbaric of all things.

To kill a Mockingbird” is a novel of education because it teaches readers about virtue and truth and injustice in an effort to expose the hideous parts of society and maybe make it a little better. A novel is a great vehicle for this kind of education because, unlike a story or a fable or a religious text, it isn’t overtly moralistic. It doesn’t just state the conclusions, it makes the reader work for them. In other words, the conclusions of the meaning of injustice and racism and love and truth and innocence are clear but implicit. But they are not dogmatic. As a result, the reader and the main character, Scout, learn the things that are important in life together.

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