To Kill a Mockingbird - Themes

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To Kill a Mockingbird – Practice Essay Theme 1 - The Coexistence of Good and Evil The novel To Kill a Mockingbird is an exploration of the human condition: whether people are essentially good or essentially evil. The novel approaches this idea by dramatising Scout and Jem's transition from a perspective of childhood innocence to a mature understanding of the coexistence of good and evil. At the beginning of the novel, they approach life innocently, believing in the goodness of all people. Later during Tom Robinson's trial, the children are sorely disappointed and this is changed when the jury made up of their fellow townspeople convict the obviously innocent Tom Robinson, simply because he is a black man and his accuser is white. The realization that there is evil in those who they thought good greatly confuses Scout and Jem; after the trial they must re-evaluate their understanding of human nature. While conversing with Scout, Jem says "If there's just one kind of folks, why can't they get along with each other? … I think I'm beginning to understand why Boo Radley's stayed shut up in the house all this time - it's because he wants to stay inside". The challenge of this struggle causes Jem great emotional pain as he tries to come to terms with the disappointing realities of inequality, racism, and general unfairness, whilst sharing his thoughts with Scout. Although the children are used to present a mature understanding of the human condition and the coexistence of good and evil, the guiding moral voice of To Kill a Mockingbird is embodied by Atticus Finch. He knows that rather than being simply creatures of good or creatures of evil, most people have both good and bad qualities. Atticus tries to teach this ultimate moral lesson to Scout and Jem - "You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… until you climb into his
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