Another Man\'s Song


In the novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee addresses many controversial issues. Such issues as, racism, discrimination,
and social class are explored. During the 1950\'s in the small county of Maycomb, the mentality of most southern people
reflected that of the nation. Most of the people were racist and discriminatory. In the novel, these ideas are explored by a
young girl, Scout. The readers see the events that occur through her eyes. In the book, Scout\'s father, Atticus, tells Scout and
Jem, "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 its a sin to kill a mockingbird." (pg. 69) The mockingbird is a symbol for two of the characters in the
novel: Tom Robinson and Boo Radley. The mockingbird symbolizes these two characters because it does not have its own
song. Whereas, the blue jay is loud and obnoxious, the mockingbird only sings other birds\' songs. Because the mockingbird
does not sing its own song, we characterize it only by what the other birds sing. Hence, we see the mockingbird through the
other birds. In the novel, the people of Maycomb only know Boo Radley and Tom Robinson by what others say about them.
Both of these characters do not really have their own "song" in a sense, and therefore, are characterized by other people\'s
viewpoints.

Throughout the novel, Scout, Jem, and Dill are curious about the "mysterious" Boo Radley because he never comes outside of
his house or associates with anyone in the neighborhood. The children are, in fact, afraid of him because of all the stories they
hear about him from the people in Maycomb. For example, Miss Stephanie tells the children that while Boo was sitting in the
living room cutting a magazine, he "drove the scissors into his parent\'s leg, pulled them out, wiped them on his pants, and
resumed his activities." (pg. 11) After hearing stories like these, the children consider him to be evil. Gradually they assume
more about Boo because he never plays outside or with anyone, and therefore, the children are not convinced otherwise. Boo
Radley becomes a game for the children; over the summers they act out "Boo Radley scenarios" that they believed to be true.
Over time they create new parts to the story: they even include Mrs. Radley into the story and portrays her as a poor woman,
who after she married Mr. Radley, "lost her teeth, her hair, and her right forefinger." (pg. 39) These stories are based on the
gossip that trail through their neighborhood. In realty, no one knew anything about Boo Radley; he stayed inside of his house
and remained reclusive in Maycomb county. At the end of the book, Scout finally meets Boo Radley after he helps her and
Jem escape Mr. Ewell. She finds that her beliefs about him are not true. Essentially, she finds the songs that the neighbors were
"putting into his mouth" were not true. In the book, Boo Radley is a micro version of Tom Robinson. Boo is the outcast of the
neighborhood, but at the time, Tom Robinson was the outcast of the society.


The novel centers around the trial of Tom Robinson. To the people of Maycomb county, Tom Robinson is just a "sorry
nigger," who committed an unthinkable crime. In the novel, Tom represents the black race in American society. He is a victim
of racism, which was the major controversy in our culture at the time. Like Boo Radley, Tom Robinson is characterized by
what the people of Maycomb county say about him. After being accused of rape, most of the people see him as an evil beast.
During the trial while Bob Ewell testifies, he points to Tom Robinson and says, "I seen that black nigger yonder ruttin\' on my
Mayella." (pg. 173) According to Mr. Ewell, Tom Robinson is an animal who tormented and violated his daughter.
Throughout the trial, Tom Robinson is portrayed in this manner because of the racist mentality of the people in Maycomb.
Even though there is a sufficient amount of proof which shows he did not commit the crime, Tom is a black man who will be
denied justice. Atticus reinforces this idea when he tells Jem, "in our courts, when it\'s a white man\'s word against a black
man\'s, the white man always wins."