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Symbolism in Harper Lee's 'To Kill a Mockingbird'

Symbolism in Harper Lee's 'To Kill a Mockingbird'

An overview of the symbolism in 'To Kill a Mockingbird', a novel written by Harper Lee. It is based on her observations and an event that had occurred when she was 10 years old.
Penlighten Staff
Did You Know?
'To Kill a Mockingbird' has never been out of print since the year 1960, when it was published for the first time.

The novel dwells on the issues of racial inequality, and an event that had taken place during the formative years of the author Harper Lee. Despite talking about such serious and sensitive issues, the novel is also widely remembered for its humor elements.
The story revolves around the life of Atticus Finch, a lawyer, as seen from the eyes of his daughter Scout. The counsel has been assigned the case of an African-American who has been accused for raping a white woman. The plot is based during the times of the 'Great Depression', and the lawyer has to suffer the wrath of racists for defending the accused. The novel follows the course of this trial. Here's a look at the symbolism used in 'To Kill a Mockingbird'.
Symbols in 'To Kill a Mockingbird'

Mockingbird
The mockingbird in the title represents the caged feeling of the oppressed during those days. The bird is also a symbol of innocence, whereas, its killing means the shattering of innocence.

Tim Johnson
The mad dog symbolizes the racism that was rampant in those days in the southern parts of the United States. The attempt to kill him was symbolic of the need to put an end to racism.

Morphrodite
This is the snowman that the siblings have created, and has snow covering his head which is made up of dirt. It is a representation of the two races being the same.

Radley House Tree
The house tree can be seen as an effort to reach out to those who have been shun by the society, despite the measures taken by the opposition.

Miss Maudie
She represents the enlightened women who had to face suppression in those times, and is a symbol of strength and integrity.

Burning of Miss Maudie's House
The fire in house of Miss Maudie is symbolic of the county keeping their differences aside and unifying, before it is again torn apart by legal proceedings.

Geraniums
The flowers, poor man's substitute for rose, are symbolic of the unfulfilled love of Mayella.

Camellia Flowers
The flowers are the representation of the fact that prejudices cannot be ditched easily. The cutting of the head of these is symbolic of the brash attitude of the young generation.

Snow on the Mountain
Jem receiving one of these flowers post the death of Mrs. Dubose signifies reconciliation, along with her freedom from addiction.

Azaleas
These flowers survive in harsh conditions, and are symbolic of the instinct to survive in adversity. They are a representation of Miss Maudie's pleasant personality despite the events taking place around her, and her love for beauty and independence.

To Kill a Mockingbird, which has won a 'Pulitzer Prize', is one of the most successful books in literature. It has become one of the classics of American literature. This, however, remains the only book ever published by Harper Lee.