Do Good and Evil Really Coexist?

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee


Harper Lee addresses this question in the novel, "To Kill a Mockingbird" by dramatizing Scout and Jem’s transition from a perspective of childhood innocence, in which they assume that people are good because they have never seen evil, to a more adult perspective, in which they have confronted evil and must incorporate it into their understanding of the world.

To an extent, Jem is victimized by the discovery of the evil of racism during and after the trial. Whereas Scout is able to maintain her basic faith in human nature despite Tom’s conviction, Jem’s faith in justice and in humanity is badly damaged, and he retreats into a state of disillusionment.


Aiding the reader in resolving the juxtaposition of good vs. evil is the character, Atticus Finch because he has experienced and understood evil without losing his faith in the human capacity for goodness. Atticus understands that most people have both good and bad qualities. The important thing is to appreciate the good qualities and understand the bad qualities by treating others with empathy and trying to see life from their perspective.

Finch tries to teach this ultimate moral lesson to Jem and Scout to show them that it is possible to live with conscience without losing hope or becoming cynical.