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Rabid Dogs And Hybrid Snowmen: Symbolism In To Kill A Mockingbird

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The plots and themes of this classic American literature have come under consideration and review many times, but not enough readers take notice to all of the metaphors and symbolism that are intertwined with the text. While To Kill a Mockingbird has many values of equality on the surface, the hidden meanings and symbolism allow it to take a deeper stance than one might notice right away. A few notable examples are the encounter with the rabid dog, the mud-and-snow man, Atticus’s light at the prison house, and, of course, the references to mockingbirds.

The rabid dog, a threat to the town of Maycomb, wandered down the street, nobody daring to confront it but Atticus. Even Heck Tate, the town sheriff, hadn’t the courage to take the shot. Clearly, this scene goes deeper than what is on the surface. Atticus was the only one brave enough to pull the trigger, but he was also the only one brave enough to go against the general bigotry of the town as well. Like the poison of prejudice, the dog walked freely down the street in its own twisted fashion. To everyone, the dog apparently seemed unstoppable. Furthermore, this symbolic language also explains the later statement (said as the jury reentered the courthouse) “it was like watching Atticus walk into the street, raise a rifle to his shoulder and pull the trigger, but watching all the time knowing that the gun was empty. (Lee 211)”

The mud-and-snow man and ensuing fire could also symbolize the town’s racism. Jem decision to build the basic snowman out of dirt, and then add the details with snow is representative of his sense of equality. At first, the snowman was all black with dirt, but by also adding the white snow, Jem’s “morphodite” turned out to look just like the man he was portraying; Mr. Avery - something nearly unachievable using only one. This could symbolize Jem’s impartiality, as most children would never think of using dirt in a snowman. Atticus might have noticed this as well, bringing him what, in my opinion, would otherwise be an overabundance of pride. After seeing his snowman, Atticus said, “…from now on, I’ll never have to worry about what’ll become of you, son… (Lee 67)” Of course, trying to treat black and white as equal in the town of Maycomb could not go unpunished. Later in the chapter, a fire breaks out around the neighborhood, destroying what had taken Scout and Jem all day to build up, just as it had taken Atticus several months to build up his case to have a chance at defending Tom Robinson, only to have his defense compromised by a handful of “guilty” verdicts from a biased jury.

Yet another instance of the underlying texts and themes is the scene in which Atticus is propped up against the jail house wall, reading a book with the light he brought along. The setting finds Atticus sitting alone in a ring of light as cars arrive in the dark, their passengers emerging to find and kill Tom Robinson without trial. Atticus alone in that ring of light seems to also suggest his stand against racism in the town, casting the light of reason and fairness over those who came to mindlessly kill an innocent man. Eventually, with the help of a child’s innocence, the mob realizes where it is and what it was about to do, and disbands with a sense of shame. Although Atticus never did end up winning his fight and shedding light on racism, his stand at the jail was no less valiant or symbolic.

As anyone who has read the book might have noticed, the icon for which the book was named, the emblematic mockingbird appears all throughout the story and describes various people and scenes. In an early passage, Atticus gives his infamous speech regarding Scout and Jem’s new air rifles: “I’d rather you shot at tin cans in the back yard, but I know you’ll go after birds. Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit вЂ?em, but remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird. (Lee 90)” Because the



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