In Oscar Hijuelos' Mr. Ives' Christmas, the strongest example of good triumphing over evil is Mr. Ives' obsessive desire to rehabilitate the fourteen-year old murderer of Ives' seventeen-year old son rather than feeding off a need for revenge for the loss of his boy's life. One might expect Mr. Ives to demand "an eye for an eye"—cursing him all the while. However, Mr. Ives chooses a different path.
Perhaps Ives chooses this other path because he was a lost child of the city who was saved through his adoption by a good and loving man who gave Ives a life: the rich life he has built with his wife. Could it be then too, that in helping this young murderer, Ives triumphs over evil by passing on the gift that was given to him? A second chance? Grace? Even in the face of such personal tragedy?
This is a story of faith, and as such, Mr. Ives tries to create the opportunity for redemption for this other young man. The fact that it takes place at Christmas might be symbolic of the time right before a miracle takes place, when hope comes into the world with the birth of the baby Jesus. Ives may we be looking toward the hope of miracle.
Set in a neighborhood where darkness reigns in the form of "gangs, muggers and dope addicts," Hijuelos offers hope, like a star on a dark night, providing a guiding light toward ultimate forgiveness.