The Sin In Ideology Essay

1715 words - 7 pages

“I’d rather you shoot at tin cans in the backyard, but I know you’ll go after birds. Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit ‘em, but remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird”(90). Atticus Finch, a guide mentor of the novel, explains this to his children after they are gifted with air rifles for Christmas. Notably, the title of this American classic, To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee, is taken from a seemingly insignificant excerpt. However, if read carefully, the reader begins to understand that this is just one other example out of a plethora of symbolism. Set in a Depression-era Southern town, Lee features various themes, though the novel focuses on various forms of prejudice. It brings forth the idea that prejudice, in any form is a sin. By delving into a variety of literary techniques, Lee’s theme of prejudice in the form of racism is used to communicate the negative fallout of ideology. This can especially be studied through examples from the novel, including the actions and thoughts of Atticus Finch’s children, through the actions of racist whites, and though the beliefs and actions of Atticus himself.
Lee takes advantage of the actions of the children in the novel to contribute heavily to symbolism. An early instance of this can be seen when Jem and Scout build a snowman during the winter. Not able to find enough snow to cover the snowman, Jem gives it a foundation of dirt, and then proceeds to cover it with whatever snow they had. This action in itself is symbolic and can be interpreted in two different ways. In one way, it is symbolic of Jem attempting to cover the black (snow) man, making him into a white (snow) man, conveying the message that, in reality, all human beings are the same. This is confirmed when Atticus approvingly says, “I didn’t know how we’re going to do it, but from now on I’ll never worry about what’ll become of you, son, you’ll always have an idea” (67). A fire overwhelms Miss Maudie Atkinson’s house later that night. This event is also symbolic of prejudice seen in the town of Maycomb. The fire melts the snow from the snowman, leaving behind blobs of mud. The fire illustrates the town and its prejudice in saying that whites are superior to blacks. The event of the snowman can also be viewed from a different perspective. Jem combines mud and snow to build the snowman, possibly symbolizing the disapproval of interracial marriages in Maycomb County. A separate event that shows the children’s symbolism is Jem and Scout’s encounter with Mrs.Dubose, a sick, elderly, and bitter woman. Once, she screams at Jem, “Your father’s no better than the niggers and trash he works for!” (102). Her dialogue represents the view of the entire town of Maycomb on Atticus Finch’s defense of Tom Robinson. Later that day, an enraged Jem cuts through all of Mrs.Dubose’s camellias, which happen to be white. The carnage of the white camellias may symbolize Jem attempting to eradicate the beliefs of the surrounding racist society....

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