To Kill a Mockingbirdexplores many aspects of good and evil. Sometimes what represents good and evil is clear. Bob Ewell certainly appears evil, as he is shown to be a self-serving sociopath who does not hesitate to threaten or hurt others as he sees fit. Atticus Finch is a...
To Kill a Mockingbird explores many aspects of good and evil. Sometimes what represents good and evil is clear. Bob Ewell certainly appears evil, as he is shown to be a self-serving sociopath who does not hesitate to threaten or hurt others as he sees fit. Atticus Finch is a clear representation of good, as he stands up for justice even at great risk to himself, his family, and his reputation.
Harper Lee also explores more subtle concepts of good and evil. The people of Maycomb are by and large decent people. However, within most individuals we meet, there is an element of racism. They are not evil people, but they are capable of evil (racist) thinking and even actions. Through this lens, Harper Lee forces the reader to consider whether most people are inherently prone to being good or evil. Throughout the story, we see that there is nuance and the capability for both inside everyone.
It is possible that even Atticus harbors evil inclinations, or Bob Ewell has some goodness inside of him. However, it is the actions that one takes that define them. In chapter 15, for instance, the lynch mob that gathers outside of Tom Robinson's cell is composed of people from all walks of life. They are bent on evil, though they may see it as an act of justice through their warped racist worldview. However, Scout, recognizing Mr. Cunningham in the crowd, exchanges some nice words with him, and the mob disperses. As readers, we are left to wonder if Mr. Cunningham really is evil.
There are a number of instances like these that force us to examine what makes people do good or evil acts. What I believe Harper Lee intentionally made vague was whether people themselves are good or evil. That is left up to the reader to decide.