The Non-Dichotomy of Good and Evil (in Context of Lee's to Kill a Mockingbird)

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Most students (and readers in general), tend to associate the themes of racial injustice and existential social inequality with the renowned novel To Kill a Mockingbird, but I find that a more important message that is conveyed in Mockingbird is that there is no defining rubicon between the areas of good and evil in the human psyche, but there are blurred areas of reasoning and thinking which cannot be placed into classical domains of psychology. Thus, it can be said that humans are not strictly dark or light beings, but have the capacity for both, and are both. Hence, a “non-dichotomy” of sorts.

In Mockingbird, Atticus goes to great lengths to educate Jean Louise, not only in academia, but in morality and sympathy. When Jean Louise leaves the classroom on the first day of school, she remarks to herself, “I saw her sink down into her chair and bury her head in her arms. Had her conduct been more friendly toward me, I would have felt sorry for her.” After describing her conflict with Ms. Caroline, as well as the rest of the day’s happenings, to Atticus, he tells her, “you never really understand a person until you’ve considered things from his point of view [...] until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” This adage stays with Jean Louise until the resolution of the novel, where she considers Arthur Radley’s vantage point from his porch, gazing over all of her street. This establishes the first real teaching Jean Louise has from her father, and forms the basis of the understanding of human nature which is required to fully comprehend the capacity of humans to wage such war on their own kind, and yet be so gentle in their everyday dealings with one another.

The second major revelation which continues to establish this point comes in the form of a person. The arrival of Dill prompts the inquisition of Jem, Dill, and Jean Louise into Arthur Radley’s life, in which they are initially captivated by unfounded tales of crimes and nightly occurrences....
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