“To kill a mocking bird” is one of the few books that have the theme incorporated in its title. The obvious theme of the novel is “to kill a mockingbird”. This theme is the most significant aspect of the novel. Throughout the book we get many indications and suggestions of its existence. The theme derives from the age-old idiom: “it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird”. Two characters of this book directly represent the ‘mockingbirds’ of this idiom. These two characters are none other than Arthur “Boo” Radley and Tom Robinson.
They are mockingbirds because of very dissimilar reasons. The composition that follows seeks to analyze these two characters and describe their fates. Arthur (Boo) Radley was the first mockingbird that we came across in the book. The information that we receive about him is mainly through secondary resources. Therefore, it is very hard to distinguish between fact and fiction. In part one, the book contains vivid descriptions of Boo Radley. All of these descriptions are inaccurate and erroneous. In the first chapter he is called a “malevolent phantom” (Lee 8).
He is also often described as a “ghost”; one example of this is on page 11. Such expressions are seldom used to portray human beings which indicate that there are a host of imaginary talks going on about him. We are also told he has a “head like a skull”, and he “leaves tracks in the backyard during the night” (Lee 13). He also “drove scissors into his parent’s leg” for no reason whatsoever (Lee 11). He is meandering around at night and is always “scratching on the back screen” of peoples doors (Lee 13).
His diet consists of “raw squirrels and any cats” which leaves him with horrifying “blood stained hands” (Lee 13). Other descriptions of him include: “a long jagged scar that ran across his face; what teeth he had were yellow and rotten; his eyes popped, and he drooled most of the time” (Lee 13). These are simply foolish and outlandish descriptions that are often given to fictitious Halloween vampires. A narrative of his childhood antics says that he was a disobedient teen; thus, “Boo was locked in the courthouse basement” and then released before he would “die of mold from the damp” (Lee 11).
He apparently was never seen since those events took place. This is a very imaginative and interesting account about him, but it would never pass for more than a foolish ghost story. The real picture of Boo is revealed at the end of the novel. We find out he is a normal human being but he is just a bit different. He is very shy and withdrawn from the big world around him. The community has created an image of him that does not really exist. They have shown ignorance and narrow-mindedness towards timid Boo.
He is clearly earmarked as a mockingbird in Chapter 30, when Heck Tate tells Atticus that he will not let Boo be uncovered to the public. Heck said that “… draggin’ him and his shy ways into the limelight… ” is “… a sin. It’s a sin and I’m not about to have it on my head… ” (Lee 276). Scout shows that she comprehends Mr. Tate when she replies: “Well, it’d be sort of like shootin’ a mockingbird, wouldn’t it? ” (Lee 276). Boo is the first Mockingbird we come across in the book, who is effectively killed by being socially ostracized.
The second mockingbird we meet is Tom Robinson. He is briefly mentioned at the end of part one, but he is predominantly seen in part two of the book. He is a mockingbird because of his physical disability. One of his arms is totally crippled and is of no use at all. The main reason that he is a mockingbird is because of his social position. He is a “colored” person, who is accused by a white woman of rape, which makes his position very helpless indeed. During the 1930’s USA had segregation between blacks and whites.
The blacks were thought of as inferior humans. They were treated without respect and were looked down upon. In any dispute or accusation, the white man always won, whether he was right or wrong. This was the case with Tom Robinson as well; solid proof of his innocence was given to the jury. In fact, it was confirmed that Mayella’s father had raped her, but Tom Robinson was blamed for it. It was clear he would be punished in some way or the other as soon as he was accused by Mayella Ewell.
This is plainly indicated by Harper Lee “Tom was a dead man the minute Mayella Ewell opened her mouth and screamed” (Lee 241). The comparison of Tom Robinson and a defenseless mockingbird is made explicitly by Mr. Underwood (owner of a Maybcomb Tribune) in chapter 25. He said: “… was a sin to kill cripples, be they standing, sitting or escaping” (Lee 241). He compared Tom’s death to the “senseless slaughter of songbirds by hunters and children… ” (Lee 241). “To kill a Mockingbird” revolves around Arthur Radley and Tom Robinson.
As you read above, these two characters are the mockingbirds of the book. Arthur Radley is the primary focus of part one, while Tom Robinson is the primary focus in part two. The author communicates that defenseless mockingbirds are not only created because of a person’s color, but also because of their personality traits. The fate of Tom Robinson is death, while that of Arthur is to be a social outcast. The analysis amply demonstrates how these two characters were unfairly victimized and condemned by the society to misery and ruin.