The Symbolism of the Dog Being Shot in "To Kill a Mockingbird"

Atticus Finch fights racism and balances good and evil in
... Comstock Images/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Harper Lee's "To Kill a Mockingbird" explores many situations in which good and evil are expressed through the actions of people in a small town in the South. The central character, Atticus Finch, is a freethinker and is heroic in his ability to defy popular opinion and stand up for what is right. Atticus understands that people have the potential for both good and evil.

1 Good vs. Evil

In the fictional southern town of Maycomb, Alabama, a series of odd events occur in 1933. One incident involved a rabid dog that was near and dear to the community members. Out of necessity, Atticus shoots the dog, putting him out of his misery and saving the town from the threat of rabies contagion. This act represents Atticus saving the town from a deadly disease, while the town continues to suffer from the social disease of racism. Atticus saves the people from rabies, and later he shows them that racism is evil to its core. Killing the dog symbolizes killing racism.

Connie Jankowski began writing in 1987. She has published articles in "Dog Fancy" and "The Orange County Register," among others. Areas of expertise include education, health care and pets. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in communications from the University of Pittsburgh.