To Kill a Mockingbird Themes

Theme’ is a universal idea presented in a literary piece of work.  In To Kill a Mockingbird, themes are specific and yet applicable to any timeline. The novel shows the dilemma of racism, along with the dark sides of human nature.  Some of the major themes in To Kill a Mockingbird are discussed below.

Themes in To Kill a Mockingbird

Theme #1

The conflict between Good and Evil

One of the most important themes in To Kill a Mockingbird is the conflict between good and evil. The writer deals with the idea of good and evil by highlighting the transition of Jem and Scout from the perspective of innocence. They believe that people are good because they do not realize the evil side of human nature. However, their viewpoint is changed when they learn that evil, once unleashed, refuses to be bottled up. This leads to the destruction and emotional death of people like Boo Radley and Tom Robinson. Therefore, the theme of the conflict between good and evil runs deep in the novel as Atticus acknowledges that there some goodness in bad people.

Theme #2


Ambition is another major theme in the novel, To Kill a Mockingbird. Atticus Finch is ambitious to fight for innocent, Tom Robinson and remains persistent in his efforts. He revolts against society and follows his own principles to fight against inequality. Atticus’s ambition grows so strong that he faces the wrath and anger of Maycomb, a place, where he is once respected and admired. The end of the novel shows that Atticus was able to survive the odds and regain his lost dignity and respect. Hence, the theme proves that being ambitious for the right cause will lead anyone to victory.

Theme #3


The theme of education in To Kill a Mockingbird is not only evident but also very pervasive. Despite the fact that the educational system in Maycomb leaves much to be desired, Atticus instills love and benefit of good education in Jem and Scout. He nurtures the element of positivity in their minds so strongly that no evil can uproot it. Atticus also takes pride in instilling the roots of moral education in his children. He not only treats them as adults but also encourages them to grow intellectually and morally.

Theme #4


Another overarching but implicit thematic strand is that of prejudice.  The unjustified and cruel prejudicial system of Maycomb destroys a person’s lives. The most evident victim of discrimination is Tom Robinson, who is declared guilty of a false charge of raping a white woman. Tom’s accuser is also a victim of prejudice. Her whole family is considered immoral by the rest of the town. Scout and Jem also observe prejudice when Aunt Alexandra suggests Atticus to fire Calpurnia and teach children the importance of class.

Theme #5

Moral complexity

Another major theme that runs throughout the novel is of moral complexity. Jem and Scout learn this truth that no yardstick can measure good and evil in human beings. At first, they assume that human beings are symbols of purity and virtue. Jem’s trial challenges their perception toward humanity. When the angry mob tries to harm Atticus, they learn that how people can change in an instant and also stand against the person whom they used to admire once. But Atticus and his children approach others from a place of empathy and tenderness which successfully prepares them to confront evil without losing heart.

Theme #6


The theme of innocence also looms large in the novel. Jem and Scout are the representation of innocence. The test of their innocence comes when their father decides to support a black man. They learn that people are not judged by their qualities, or moral standards but by the color of their skin. The loss of innocence confronts them in the shape of racial injustice and biased social morality. This loss of innocence makes them more vulnerable and sympathetic toward society. The unjust system of society also mocks Tom’s integrity. By the end of the novel, the innocence of the people grows up to the level of mature and responsible thinking.

Theme #7


The theme of racism serves as the backbone of the novel. Various characters in To Kill a Mockingbird confront racial discrimination, including Calpurnia, Scout, Tom Robinson, and his family. Throughout the novel, Scout explores differences between white people and black people. Tom is convicted because of the color of his skin. The race is the only strong evidence that stands against him. Since everything has ensued from the perspective of prejudice, it could be stated that racism is a critical thematic strand.

Theme #8

Laws and Codes

The novel also shows the critical importance of a legal system. This theme becomes more than necessary when it is applied selectively. The laws and codes practiced by Maycomb citizens are complex and contradictory.  Hence, they fail to provide justice to Tom, Boo Radley and all those victims in their society. Atticus Finch’s trial also shows the frailty of this legal system. Although Ewell has not broken any law, even some codes and their violation is considered akin to the violation of a legal system. However, Tom’s case does not come up to the yardstick of codes, but laws. Hence, laws are selectively applied in Maycomb, which makes an essential theme of the novel.

Theme #9


Jem and Scout pass from innocence to knowledge as their characters develop in the story through various experiences. They begin to realize their own relationship with the community outside and also encounters one man’s heroism against communal bias. At first, they judge the people through their narrow social lens. Later, their understanding of the people dramatically changes when they encounter bitter realities of life. Their experiences with the people making them believe that monster Boo Radley is truly a pure soul. This opens up a foray of knowledge to them.

Theme #10

The Existence of Social Inequality

Complicated social hierarchy of Maycomb explores the differences in the social status of the people. Whereas rich Finches are at the top of the hierarchy, the Cunninghams are at the bottom, while the Ewells and other communities are in the middle of this hierarchal social system. This social inequality has its impacts not only on the application of the legal system but also on public behavior. Therefore, it is another strong theme of the novel.