To Kill a Mockingbird

The Mockingbird Symbol Analysis

The Mockingbird Symbol Icon
Atticus tells Jem and Scout that it's a sin to kill a mockingbird because mockingbirds cause no harm to anyone; they just sing. Because of these traits, mockingbirds in To Kill a Mockingbird symbolize innocence and beauty. And killing a mockingbird is therefore an act of senseless cruelty. There are a number of characters who can be seen as mockingbirds in the text, most particularly Tom Robinson and Boo Radley.

The Mockingbird Quotes in To Kill a Mockingbird

The To Kill a Mockingbird quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Mockingbird. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Good, Evil, and Human Dignity Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Warner Books edition of To Kill a Mockingbird published in 1960.
Chapter 10 Quotes
"Remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird." That was the only time I ever heard Atticus say it was a sin to do something, and I asked Miss Maudie about it.
"Your father's right," she said. "Mockingbirds don't do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. They don't eat up people's gardens, don't nest in corncribs, they don't do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That's why it's a sin to kill a mockingbird."
Related Characters: Jean Louise Finch (Scout) (speaker), Atticus Finch (speaker), Miss Maudie Atkinson (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Mockingbird
Page Number: 119
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 25 Quotes
[Jem] was certainly never cruel to animals, but I had never known his charity to embrace the insect world.

"Why couldn't I mash him?" I asked.

"Because they don't bother you," Jem answered in the darkness. He had turned out his reading light.
Related Characters: Jean Louise Finch (Scout) (speaker), Jeremy Atticus Finch (Jem) (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Mockingbird
Page Number: 320
Explanation and Analysis:

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The Mockingbird Symbol Timeline in To Kill a Mockingbird

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Mockingbird appears in To Kill a Mockingbird. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 10
Good, Evil, and Human Dignity Theme Icon
...he didn't teach them how to shoot, instead only telling them not to shoot at mockingbirds, since it's a sin to kill a mockingbird. Miss Atkinson explains: all mockingbirds do is... (full context)
Chapter 25
Good, Evil, and Human Dignity Theme Icon
Courage Theme Icon
Small Town Southern Life Theme Icon
...Underwood publishes an editorial in his newspaper comparing Tom's death to the "senseless slaughter of songbirds." (full context)