Harper Lee’s sequel to her 1960 literary classic “To Kill a Mockingbird” came out today, but what does the title mean?
The title comes from a passage from the King James Bible in Book of Isaiah. Isaiah 21:6 reads:
“For thus hath the Lord said unto me, Go, set a watchman, let him declare what he seeth.”
According to a quote in an article by Alabama.com by Wayne Flynt, friend of Harper Lee and and Baptist minister, it means:
“‘Go Set a Watchman’ means, ‘Somebody needs to be the moral compass of this town,'” Flynt said. “Isaiah was a prophet. God had set him as a watchman over Israel. It’s really God speaking to the Hebrews, saying what you need to do is set a watchman, to set you straight, to keep you on the right path. What more elegant title could there be?”
The choice could be referring to the fact that the once beloved literary character Atticus Finch, champion of civil rights, is now portrayed as a bigot in the book.
As for the title of To Kill a Mockingbird meaning, SparkNotes.com writes:
The title of To Kill a Mockingbird has very little literal connection to the plot, but it carries a great deal of symbolic weight in the book. In this story of innocents destroyed by evil, the “mockingbird” comes to represent the idea of innocence. Thus, to kill a mockingbird is to destroy innocence. Throughout the book, a number of characters (Jem, Tom Robinson, Dill, Boo Radley, Mr. Raymond) can be identified as mockingbirds—innocents who have been injured or destroyed through contact with evil.