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Dualistic Dichotomy

In To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, we get insight into the lives of those in a town in
the clutches of the Great Depression named Maycomb dealing with an ostensible rape of a white
women by a black man. In the story, the topic of the coexistence of good and evil is prominent,
as shown by the characters Mayella Ewell, Aunt Alexandra, and Walter Cunningham Sr. Evil and
good have opposite definitions, but in reality they coincide with one another.
Mayella Ewell is a character that shows characteristics with the coexistence of good and
evil. In the courtroom battle, Mayella constantly kept with her lie of [t]hat nigger t[aking]
advantage of [her](251). Here, the corrupted side of Mayellas soul is evident as she is perfectly
content with allowing Tom Robinson to die for her own faults. However, still manages to exhibit
some positive characteristics despite herself being the product of her thoroughly evil father.
Amongst her shoddy family of weeds, Mayella manages to be a flower like her brilliant red
geraniums cared for as tenderly as if they belonged to Miss Maudie Atkinson (228). The
geraniums symbolize the other side of Mayellas soul of wishing to make something bright in her
dull life; to aspire to higher things. Henceforth, good and evil coexists in Aunt Alexandra as it
does in Mayella.
Nevertheless, Aunt Alexandra is another complex character who possesses both good and
evil attributes. When Aunt Alexandra tried to explain the moral behind Sam Merriweathers
suicide, she stated that it was caused by a morbid streak in the family (172). Aunt Alexandras
obsession with family streaks suggests that like her tight-fitting clothing, she chooses to live
within Maycombs constrictions. Nevertheless, even the most insolent of people can get off their
high-horse. Her genuine concern for her brother is evident when she tells Miss Maudie that she
just want[s] to know when this [trial] will end. It tears him to pieces (316). Her statement
reveals her kind heart beneath her stout and grim exterior. As Aunt Alexandra is a synchronicity
of good and evil, so is Walter Cunningham Sr.
Furthermore, in Walter Cunningham Sr. we see a contrast between evil and good. When
Atticus was at the jail, Mr. Cunningham was part of a mob that wanted to hurt Atticus (210).
Mr. Cunninghams behaviour shows that he has some prejudiced and regressive values.
Nonetheless, Mr. Cunninghams inner benevolence contrasts his shell of bigotry. When Scout
crashed the lynch mob, by her simply talking to Mr. Cunningham about his personal life she

caused him to stop the mob as Mr. Cunninghams basically a good man, he just has blind spots
along with the rest of us(210). Cunningham Sr. backing down demonstrated how some forms of
discrimination can stem from ignorance; knowledge can open eyes to goodness. All in all, Mr.
Cunningham conquered his ignorance.
Although evil and good seem to oppose one another, in reality they coexist as nothing in
this world is squarely perfect or imperfect. This is proven by Mayella Ewell being both abused
and an abuser, Aunt Alexandra having a heart behind her callousness, and Walter Cunningham
Sr. being a reasonable man who broke free of his ignorance.