The title of To Kill a Mockingbird comes from something both Atticus and Miss Maudie tell Jem and Scout: "it's a sin to kill a mockingbird" (10.7, 10.9). We cover the symbolism in our "Symbols, Imagery, Allegory" section, but why make this phrase the title? And why isn't the book called It's a Sin To Kill a Mockingbird?
Well, we think it might be intentionally vague, because this book is all about getting you to ask questions. You know, you're walking through the bookstore and you see this title, and you think, "Huh. That's weird. Why would anyone want to kill a mockingbird?" Before the story even begins, the title raises questions about the uses—or uselessness—of violence.