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Symbolism In To Kill A Mockingbird

1158 words - 5 pages

Harper Lee effectively uses symbolism throughout her novel, To Kill a Mockingbird.

Jem's nursing of the flowers denotes his courage that he nurses in order to be able to tolerate people's criticism of his family, especially of his father. He was forced to take care of the camellias just as he was forced to live with anger, disappointment and a big question mark in his young heart about the workings of grownups. Atticus "never thought Jem'd be the one to lose his head over this" (110). However Jem did 'lose his head' and now he has to find the strength to control his emotions in order to avoid further trouble. This courage was hard to find but Mrs Dubose did find it and managed to break ...view middle of the document...

One can easily guess the rank of the people who lived there. However, "against the fence, in a line, were six chipped-enamel slop jars holding brilliant red geraniums, cared for as tenderly as if they belonged to Miss Maudie Atkinson. People said they were Mayella Ewell's" (176-7). In a decaying house, Mayella's geraniums seem out of place. They would belong better in Miss Maudie's yard, since such flowers need to be taken care of with love, which did not appear to flow in the Ewell family. Nevertheless, they were there so they cannot be ignored. Therefore, the red geraniums could symbolise the good that exists in everybody; no matter how corrupted one may be, the predisposition to good still exists. In the novel it is Atticus who tries to convince his children that this assertion is valid. The day after Scout made the mob which attempted to lynch Tom Robinson to depart, Atticus says that "Mr Cunningham's basically a good man, he just has his blind spots along with the rest of us. So it took an eight-year-old child to bring'em to their senses, didn't it? That proves something - that a gang of wild animals can be stopped, simply because they're still human" (163). According to Atticus, it is enough to be human in order to know the difference between good and evil and decide which one is best. Most people have 'blind spots' which do not allow them to see clearly sometimes, but this does not necessarily mean that they are totally mean. Like the red geraniums which offer their beauty in the middle of a dump, so does good lies in the heart and mind of every human being. The geraniums could also symbolise good human beings like Atticus who can be found everywhere, even in the midst of a corrupt society.

The fire and Mrs Dubose's white camellias are not the only symbols of prejudice. Tim Johnson is another symbol of prejudice and his shooting by Atticus is also highly allegorical. Jem and Scout did not know their father was such a good shooter and they were very surprised to see him shooting: "With movements so swift they seemed simultaneous, Atticus's hand yanked a ball-tipped lever as he brought the gun to his shoulder. The...

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