Ask a question

3 oxymorons in To Kill a Mockingbird

I need three oxymorons for my English class from TKAM but I can't find any!

3 Answers by Expert Tutors

Tutors, sign in to answer this question.
Terri S. | Creative and Experienced English Literature & Composition TeacherCreative and Experienced English Literat...
5.0 5.0 (21 lesson ratings) (21)
Hi Maisie,
By definition, an oxymoron is figurative language which combines two incongruous and seemingly contradictory words and meanings for a special effect.  In other words, two words that normally do not work together and contradict or go against each other in meaning, are brought together for a special effect.
In the short story, "The Storyteller" by Saki, the author describes the main character, Bertha as so good she was "horribly good."  In an effort to drive home how incredibly saintly Bertha really is, the word "horribly" is used with the contradiction "good" -- a sense of how "makes you want to gag" good Bertha is, is driven home with the word "horribly."
To find examples of an oxymoron in TKAM, I would suggest looking carefully at the narrative descriptions of the people and places in and around Maycomb.  "The warm bittersweet smell of a clean Negro . . . ." on p. 135 is a great example.  Consider how something can be both bitter and sweet at the same time and how in contradicting each other, both words combined have a special affect on the reader and each other.
Hope this helps.


im reading the book right now, and needed examples of an oxymoron for a project. the quote you mentioned isnt on page 135, and i was still having trouble finding it. do you know what was happening when it was mentioned?
Vivian L. | Microsoft Word/Excel/Outlook, essay composition, math; I LOVE TO TEACHMicrosoft Word/Excel/Outlook, essay comp...
3.0 3.0 (1 lesson ratings) (1)
Hi Maisie;
It has been a long time since I read this book.
If I recall correctly, the character of the sheriff presents at least one oxymoron.
Charles B. | Seasoned Professional Coursework, Test Preparation, and Study SkillsSeasoned Professional Coursework, Test P...
"The warm bittersweet smell of clean Negro..." pg. 135

It is an oxymoron because bitter means the opposite of sweet.