In the novel, the rising action is full of multiple conflicts. However, there are two main conflicts in the story. The first is the children's pursuit of Boo Radley. Dill, Jem, and Scout relentlessly attempt to see Boo Radley and speak to him. This results in multiple conflicts with people like Atticus, who disapproves of his children bothering the Radleys, and Mr. Nathan Radley, who doesn't like people meddling in his yard (Lee 60). The other main conflict of the story is the trial of Tom Robinson for the rape of Mayella Ewell. The trial itself is ultimately a large conflict between socially constructed prejudices and what is right. Atticus defends Tom Robinson, the black man being accused, and loses the case. As Atticus defends Tom Robinson, this causes conflict in his family and towards his family because people disapprove of his decision to defend a black man (Lee 85). In all of this conflict, Atticus delivers the quote used for the title while instructing Jem and Scout on using their air rifles. He states, "'Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit 'em, but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird" (Lee 103).
Prejudice and its ability to prevent us from acting fairly is a theme in To Kill a Mockingbird. One of the largest examples of prejudice in the novel is when Tom Robinson is jailed for an impossible crime just because he is black. Atticus perfectly summarizes the ever-present theme of prejudice in the novel by explaining to his children, “The one place where a man ought to get a square deal is in a courtroom, be he any color of the rainbow, but people have a way of carrying their resentments right into a jury box” (Lee 252). In this quote Atticus describes how one of the supposed fairest places in the world--the court--can be filled with racial prejudice, and how prejudice in the rest of the world is not any bit better.