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A Greater Meaning: "To Kill A Mockingbird" By Harper Lee

1333 words - 6 pages

Novelists use symbolism to share ideas without directly stating them. Symbolism is a writer's tool, useful for representing a greater meaning. It can be used to shift readers' views on many levels, which then allows the readers to relate the themes behind the symbols to their own lives. If an author uses symbolism effectively, the end result is a highly influential novel. Harper Lee's "To Kill a Mockingbird" utilizes many symbols to represent many things, but the three main symbols used include the mockingbird, the mad dog Tim Johnson, and Atticus Finch.The mockingbird is a symbol introduced by Lee about one third of the way into the novel. It is clearly indicated that this is the most ...view middle of the document...

He does this by tricking Mr. Ewell into showing Judge Taylor and the jury he is left handed (189). Not only is Mr. Finch sticking up for this innocent man, Mr. Link Deas is as well. He says, "That boy's worked for me eight years an' I ain't had a speck o'trouble outa him. Not a speck" (207). Similarly, the mad dog Tim Johnson can also be connected to the mockingbird and the idea of Tom Robinson being falsely accused and, in the end, killed.Tim Johnson is a great example of Harper Lee using another great writing tool known as foreshadowing. The dog is a perfect example for representing Tom Robinson and his future in more than one way. The first factor connecting the two is prejudice. When Scout and Jem see the dog, they run and tell their family maid Calpurnia the situation. After rushing the children home, she phones Atticus and says "I swear to God there's a mad dog down the street a piece" (101). She then phones Miss Eula May and says "I know it's February, Miss Eula May, but I know a mad dog when I see one" (102). Although Cal may have been right about Tim Johnson being mad, she acted before she knew the actual facts. This leads to the second factor, which is evidence. There was sufficient evidence proving that Tom Robinson was innocent as charged, but the community (being in Alabama during a time of severe racism) convicted him anyways. When Miss Stephanie Crawford is talking about Tim Johnson, she says, "...who'da thought of a mad dog in February? Maybe he wadn't mad, maybe he was just crazy" (106). There was no evidence showing that Tim Johnson was mad, just like there was no evidence proving that Tom Robinson beat and raped Mayella Ewell. The final factor connecting Tim Johnson with Tom Robinson is their appearances. Tom Robinson's "left arm was fully twelve inches shorter than his right, and hung dead at his side" (197). Similarily, when Scout and Jem see Tim Johnson, the novel says that "He walked erratically, as if his right legs were shorter than his left legs" (101). The two not only appear to be disabled in the same manner, but they are also similarily coloured. Lee says that "Tim was a liver-coloured bird dog" (100), meaning his fur was a brownish-like colour. Similarily, Tom Robinson (being an African-American) is a brown skinned man. Atticus, being the good man he is, looks past these trivial features and defends Tom Robinson as best as he can.Many novels have a highly involved character that stands for goodness and justice. In To Kill A Mockingbird, Atticus Finch...

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