Tim Johnson Tkam Symbol

In To Kill a Mockingbird, the use of symbols play a crucial role in the development of the novel. One of the first major symbols that emerge in the novel is Tim Johnson, a mad dog who is infected with rabies. Just as the dog is infected with rabies, the people of Maycomb County are “infected” with racism (Jones 54).

Scout returns to this memory again when shes dozing off, waiting for the jury to announce its verdict in Toms case:

For starters, theres his name. It may seem odd to give an animal the last name of the family it belongs to, but its apparently common practice in Maycomb. Judge Taylors pooch gets the same treatment. But more interestingly, it allows the dogs name to sound suspiciously like that of another character. Tim Johnson…Tom Robinson? Coincidence? Maybe. But Scouts memory of her father shooting the dog does pop up more than once in situations involving Tom, and doesnt get mentioned otherwise.

I saw something only a lawyers child could be expected to see, could be expected to watch for, and it was like watching Atticus walk into the street, raise a rifle to his shoulder and pull the trigger, but watching all the time knowing that the gun was empty. A jury never looks at a defendant it has convicted, and when this jury came in, not one of them looked at Tom Robinson. (21.48)

Even Atticuss talent for sharp-shooting cant do anything if the gun isnt loaded. Its tempting to try to map out the symbolism here—is the gun the legal process? are the bullets the jury? is Tim Johnson racism?—but that might be an oversimplification. Perhaps its just the feeling Scout has thats the link between the two situations—the sick horror at whats happening, but knowing that it cant be any other way.

But why does Scout associate the two s? Perhaps theyre both examples of Atticus doing tough things he doesnt want to do. Or of Atticus facing off with a mindless threat. (He does later refer to the men in the lynch mob as “animals” [16.22]).


What are the symbols in TKAM?

The mockingbird, the mad dog, and the tree by the Radley House are important symbols found in the novel. The mockingbird symbolizes innocence, so the title suggests that innocence is being killed or destroyed. There are many examples of mockingbirds in the novel, so this symbol is the most significant.

What does a mad dog symbolize?

Lee’s intended symbolism is obvious: the mad dog represents institutional racism that has unfairly accused a handicapped black man of raping a white woman. After killing the dog, Finch warns his young son, Jem: “Don’t you go near that dog, you understand? Don’t go near him, he’s just as dangerous dead as alive.”