To Kill a Mockingbird Themes from LitCharts | The creators of SparkNotes

To Kill a Mockingbird

Themes and Colors
Good, Evil, and Human Dignity Theme Icon
Prejudice Theme Icon
Growing Up Theme Icon
Courage Theme Icon
Small Town Southern Life Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in To Kill a Mockingbird, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

To Kill a Mockingbird is largely remembered of in terms of the trial of Tom Robinson and its racist outcome. For this reason, people often think that the book's theme is simple, a straightforward criticism of racism and evil. But To Kill a Mockingbird is actually more complicated (and interesting). Except in the case of Bob Ewell, the novel avoids simple portrayals and criticisms of "evil." Instead, it shows through Scout and Jem's…

(read full theme analysis)

Atticus's belief in treating and respecting everyone as an individual is contrasted in To Kill a Mockingbird with a number of other worldviews. These other visions are all quite different from each other—they are religious, racist, classist—but they all share one thing in common: they treat people as groups, demand conformity, and give no respect or credit to individuals. In other words, they are all forms of prejudice, which is a preconceived notion about…

(read full theme analysis)

In the three years covered by To Kill a Mockingbird, Scout and Jem grow up. At the start of the book they are innocents, with an uncomplicated sense of what's good (Atticus, the people of Maycomb) and what's evil (Boo Radley). By the end of the book, the children have lost their innocence and gained a more complex understanding of the world, in which bad and good are present and…

(read full theme analysis)
Get the entire To Kill a Mockingbird LitChart as a printable PDF.
To kill a mockingbird.pdf.medium

Many people, including Jem and Scout when they're young, mix up courage with strength. They think that courage is the ability and willingness to use strength to get your way. But Atticus defines courage as "when you know you're licked before you begin but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what." Courage, in To Kill a Mockingbird, is not about winning or losing. It's about thinking long and hard about what's…

(read full theme analysis)

Maycomb is a small town, with all of the characteristics implicit in small town life: everyone knows everyone else's business, which can lead to endless and mostly harmless gossip, but more importantly makes the community extremely intimate and close-knit. The first part of To Kill a Mockingbird focuses on this close-knit community, because when they're young Scout and Jem believe that's what Maycomb is.

To an extent, the young Scout and Jem are right: Maycomb…

(read full theme analysis)