• Prejudice and Racism
  • Fear of the Unknown
  • Innocence
  • Coming of Age
  • Courage
  • Family relationships


  • The novel is set in the deep Southern state of Alabama in the mid-1930s.  During the early days of freedom for the African-Americans.  The climate was fraught with resentment that reflected people’s resistance toward the abolition of Slavery.
    • Racial Prejudice
    • Trial of Tom Robinson
    • Wrongly accused, misjudged and ill-treated, and disrespected by the people at large, including the Prosecutor who calls him ‘boy’.
      • The verdict of the trial:
      • The evidence produced by Atticus makes it clear that Tom is innocent, yet Tom is found “guilty”.   It is based merely on the fact that Tom is black.

Racial Prejudice

  • Lula does not want Scout and Jem to attend the Black Church.
  • Boo is not jailed with the Black prisoners.  He is kept in the basement of the courthouse.
  • Miss Merriweather goes on to explain the “sin and squalor” that is suffered by “those poor Mrunas” and makes herself seem most ethnically aware,
  • She refers to Helen Robinson as; “That darky’s wife”


  • Scout and Jem face harsh criticism from their peers and they are called ‘n***** lovers’ because Atticus chooses to defend an innocent man.
  • Aunt Alexandra’s attitude toward everyone is based upon their social status.
  • Ewell Family is a victim of social prejudice.  Everyone assumes that they are “no good”.
  • The whole Radley family suffers social prejudice because Boo hadn’t been seen for years, and people didn’t know where Mrs. Radley was.

Fear of the Unknown

  • It is a common human trait that we fear everything that we do not know or do not understand.
  • This universal theme is portrayed through the town’s bias (Lady’s Missionary society) toward the Negros.
  • Fearful rumors about Boo Radley isolated and Alienated an otherwise disturbed but gentle human being.


  • The entire novel is written from the viewpoint of an innocent 7-year-old.  We see the world of Maycomb through the unbiased and untutored eyes of Scout Finch.
  • The innocence of the mind and spirit is portrayed through the character of Boo Radley.
  • Jem, Scout, Dill, and Boo represent innocence
  • The most important instance of the triumph of innocence over violence and hatred was shown through the scene of confrontation between Atticus and the mob in front of the Jailhouse.  As Scout makes the adult see the folly of their actions through her innocent questions and actions.

Coming of age

  • Coming of age comes with an inevitable end of childhood innocence. Without this experience graduation into maturity cannot truly take place.
  • Jem and Scout are shown going through a tremendous amount of growing up –  physically, emotionally, mentally, and morally.
  • Jem and Scout learn about the real world in brushes with the outside world, such as at school.
  • Boo Radley, Ms. Maudie, Ms. Dubose Ms. Crawford, and the other neighbors all provide a means to learning life’s lessons to Jem and Scout.
  • Tom Robinson’s trial provides insight into the unfairness, injustice, and cruelty of the adult world for the children and becomes and a major vehicle for the experience of ‘Coming of Age


  • The concept of courage is thoroughly explored through the action of several characters.
  • Atticus was truly a man of great courage.  on the outside, he appeared to be a pacifist. However, when he killed the rabid dog, his children gained a totally different view of him. The whole town had revealed to them the secret of their father, that he was an excellent marksman and a brave man.
  • In addition, Atticus had the moral and emotional courage to stand up to the whole town in order to defend a black man.
  • Atticus had the courage to teach his children the values of equity and justice through his own example.
  • Mrs. Dobose had the courage to give up her morphine addiction.
  • Boo Radley had the courage to befriend the children despite opposition from his brother.
  • Jem, Scout, and Dill stood by their father in front of the jail as Atticus faced the mob.

Family Relationships

  • Finches, Ewells, Cunninghams, Robinsons, and Radleys all present different models of family relationships.
  • The underlying truth that is revealed is that an individual is shaped by the circumstances, morals, and support of their family.  All characters evolve through the given framework of their family circumstances. Their morality, behavior, judgment, and decisions about life reflect their family background.


  • Mockingbird
  • Morphodite
  • Radley house

Mockingbird Symbol

  • Atticus says “It is a sin to kill a Mockingbird.”
  • Later on, Ms. Maudie explains the quote to Scout.
  • “Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. They don’t eat up people’s gardens, they 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. ”
    • Mockingbird
    • A mockingbird is a metaphor for the folly of harming innocent and vulnerable people.
    • In the novel, there are two characters who are explicitly likened to the bird. These are
    • Tom Robinson and Boo Radley
    • Another character who exemplifies the symbol of the mockingbird is…….
    • Mayella Ewell
author avatar
William Anderson (Schoolworkhelper Editorial Team)
William completed his Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts in 2013. He current serves as a lecturer, tutor and freelance writer. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, walking his dog and parasailing. Article last reviewed: 2022 | St. Rosemary Institution © 2010-2024 | Creative Commons 4.0


  1. this was actually very helpful, but i wish it had quotes and examples of the themes, with the chapters and page numbers.

  2. …Could have been more help if there were MORE themes 🙁 But still thank you. LOL WHO am i thanking? hahaha.

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