Overcoming Evil with Good
Atticus Finch, the protagonist in Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, illustrates the disposition toward enemies that Paul is trying to cultivate. In the story, set in a small southern town, Bob Ewell, a white man, regularly beats his children. After beating his daughter Mayella, he falsely accuses a black man of raping her. Atticus, a white attorney, defends the black man, drawing the ire of the girl’s father. One day, as Atticus is leaving the post office, Ewell spits in his face and threatens to kill him. Atticus responds by taking out a handkerchief, wiping his face and walking away. His refusal to retaliate troubles his son Jem. Atticus tells him:
The man had to have some kind of comeback, his kind always does. So if spitting in my face and threatening me saved Mayella Ewell one extra beating, that’s something I’ll gladly take. He had to take it out on somebody and I’d rather it be me than that houseful of children out there.
Instead of retaliating against evil, Atticus absorbs it in order to take it out of circulation.
Source: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee