Good and Evil in To Kill a Mockingbird

Powerful Essays
Growing up happens during the magical times of freedom given to children in their early years. Wise parents discern when freedom is necessary for their children, are very clear about their expectations, and determine fitting consequences for actions out of line. Harper Lee personifies this role of a wise and caring parent in the father figure of her novel To Kill a Mockingbird. Atticus Finch, a character made to mirror the author’s own father, is a lawyer and a well-respected citizen of his Southern Alabama town. Through Atticus, Harper Lee establishes a standard of good and evil, developing the theme of morality during his interactions. Atticus establishes right from wrong in most every relationship, especially with his children, his friends and family, and his occupational ties. These relationships come to the reader filtered through the childlike lens of Scout Finch, Atticus’s young daughter, as she begins to encounter the weighty topics of the adult world.
The parenting techniques that Atticus employs for Scout and her older brother Jem seem, at first blush, to lack the necessary structure that his children need to learn proper manners. This may partially be due to his work obligations, and the fact that his wife died which Scout was only a baby. Instead of their mother, his colored house maid and cook, Calpurnia, is a positive influence on the children and maintains order in the home. His sister, Aunt Alexandra, is critical of this parenting approach. She is especially particular about making Scout into a lady, declaring that Scout “wasn’t supposed to be doing things that required pants” and that she should “behave like a sunbeam” to brighten her father’s lonely life (Lee 81). Men and women like Aunt Alexandra who hold the ...

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...fore reprimanding them, and treats his neighbors--even the seemingly odd ones like Boo Radley and Mrs. Dubose--and his clients, black folks included, in the same manner. Even though his own sister is preoccupied with distinguishing the Finch family from similar or slightly poorer people, Atticus remains stedfast in his convictions. He always tries to see the good in others, although he knows man’s tendency toward evil all too well. Atticus keeps hope throughout his life, always reminding his children to keep a positive attitude by not worrying when troubles come their way. By her father’s great influence, Scout finds, at the close of the story, that her father was right all along: the best way to interact with others is to treat all people with kindness and respect. Atticus serves as an accurate standard of good and evil indeed.

Works Cited

To Kill a Mockingbird