Mockingbirds of Society

Contributor: Rachael Schwartz. Lesson ID: 12996

Have you ever witnessed the bullying of a classmate, friend, or stranger? What was your reaction to the situation? Did you step in to defend the victim, or simply stand by and watch? How did you feel?


English / Language Arts, Interpersonal Skills, Reading

learning style
Auditory, Visual
personality style
Otter, Golden Retriever
Grade Level
High School (9-12)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!

Audio: Image - Button Play
Image - Lession Started Image - Button Start

Catch phrases can hold strong meanings.

  • When you hear "Have a blast!" do you think about fun or explosives?
  • If someone says, "Break a leg" or "Saved by the bell!" what comes to your mind?

In this lesson, you will explore the meaning of the phrase, "to kill a mockingbird." Quickly jot down what came to your mind when you first read that phrase.

NOTE: Ideally, this lesson should be completed after reading Part One (Chapters 1-12) of To Kill a Mockingbird in order to fully understand the concept of "walking in another's shoes." Consider reading the article found under Additional Resources in the right-hand sidebar before beginning this lesson to familiarize yourself with the novel's classic theme of helping those whose lives are vastly different from your own.

  • What meaning for the phrase "to kill a mockingbird" did you jot down?

The term "mockingbirds" is used to describe innocent victims in our society. "To kill a mockingbird" means to destroy that innocence.

Think back to a time when you saw someone being bullied.

  • How do you feel about the decision you made to help or not help that person?
  • What is the right thing to do when we come across mockingbirds (innocent victims) in society?

This is a HARD question, with no right answer — so let’s explore some possibilities and opportunities to help!

Within To Kill a Mockingbird, there are several victims who suffer at the hands of those in more powerful positions.

Listed below are just a few (of the many) innocents from the novel, complete with a brief description of the circumstance that portrays each as a victim of their world in some way. Discuss how each is suffering at the hands of those who are stronger or are in positions of

  • Boo Radley Boo is the victim of a cruel father. As a result, he stays shut up inside his home as the lonely town hermit.
  • Burris Ewell Burris is born into a poor, ignorant, and cruel family full of prejudices. His father, who is portrayed as the most racist person in the town, falsely accuses a man of raping his daughter. Burris is also uneducated because he is only allowed to attend school one day a year. He is described as literally dirty, full of lice, and illiterate. As a result, Burris is characterized as quite the angry youth.

    Although Burris takes out his anger on both the teacher and students at times, some would classify him as a victim as well. Do you agree or disagree? Make sure to elaborate and use evidence from the text when discussing your answer.
  • Tom Robinson Tom is wrongly accused of rape in a highly racist town. He is powerless to defend himself within the legal system due to the time period. He is the main symbol of innocents suffering at the hands of those who misuse their power.

Consider the famous words of one of literature’s most admirable heroes, Atticus Finch: “…but remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird."

  • Now that you have discussed some of the mockingbirds of literature, why do you suppose it is a “sin to kill a mockingbird,” according to Atticus?
  • Why does Atticus want his children to become aware of mockingbirds?
  • Why is it important for us to become aware of their existence in our society?

Answer and discuss these essential questions with someone.

Continue on to the Got It? section to examine mockingbirds in the real world.

hungry children

Image - Button Next