What are some examples of the coexistence of good and evil in To Kill A Mockingbird?

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gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are several examples throughout the novel To Kill a Mockingbird where good and evil coexist.

Inside the Radley home, good and evil coexist. Nathan Radley is Arthur "Boo" Radley's oppressive older brother. Nathan psychologically abuses Boo by not allowing him to leave home and fills their tree with cement to stop Boo from communicating with the Finch children. However, Boo is an innocent, kind individual who truly cares about Jem and Scout. Boo is a morally upright character who risks his life to save the children.

Another example of good and evil coexisting in the novel could apply to the Ewell home. Despite the fact that Bob is an abusive alcoholic, Mayella is a rather sympathetic character who does her best to take care of her siblings. Mayella even values beauty in nature and seeks Tom's friendship. Unfortunately, she makes the terrible decision to accuse Tom of assaulting and raping her after Bob sees her kissing Tom.

Good and evil also coexist at Aunt Alexandra's missionary circle. The local women gather to discuss how they support J. Grimes Everett's mission, but their conversation is full of ignorant prejudice. The women claim to have Christian values yet are prejudiced against other cultures and African Americans.

mstultz72 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Although most characters in To Kill a Mockingbird are clearly on the side of good (Atticus, Miss Maudie) or evil (Bob Ewell), a few are conflicted in their morality:

  • Walter Cunningham, Sr.: once a member of a lynch mob that sought vigilante justice against Tom, Walter, Sr. became a more tolerant and empathetic man by the end of the novel.
  • Mrs. Dubose: once the vitriolic berater of children, Mrs. Dubose showed great courage in battling her morphine addiction
  • Aunt Alexandra: once a champion of Southern Aristocratic debutante values, Aunt Alexandra is more accepting and open-minded once the trial begins and she sees the effects of racism on her family

Even a few institutions are places where good and evil coexist:

  • Scout's school: Miss Fisher tries to teach the class to read while--at the same time--telling Scout she learned to read all wrong.
  • Maycomb County Courthouse: Atticus' closing statement urges equality for all. ¬†Judge Taylor is an honorable man, but the antics of Mr. Gilmer, Mayella and Bob Ewell reveal that no real justice can befit Tom Robinson


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To Kill a Mockingbird

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