The Balance Between Good and Evil
Nobody can deny the fact that both good and evil exist in this world. They exist in people’s everyday lives, which saves people from doing extensive research in order to truly understand the idea of good and evil. The struggle between good and evil is never-ending, and the relationship between them can be interpreted in many ways. One of the many interpretations of therelationship between them is the fact that they need to coexist.
Without each other, good and evil both lose their meaning. Since people define good and evil as opposites of each other, there is no good without evil and no evil without good. “The Most Dangerous Game” by Richard Connell and “The Child by Tiger” by Thomas Rolfe reveal that good and evil must coexist through the internal and external conflicts of the main characters. The two main characters, Rainsford and Dick, clash against the society, which exhibits the fact that good and evil must coexist in this world. The good within Rainsford defies the society’s evil standards as good has to exist together with evil in order to counter evil.
The conversation between Rainsford and Zaroff indicates that Rainsford tries to rebel against the society’s standards, which is stated by Zaroff:”life is for the strong, to be lived by the strong, and, if need be, taken by the strong” (Connell 19). Zaroff in the story represents the society, as the society always chants and claims that the world is all about the “survival of the fittest”. On the other hand, Rainsford represents a person who defies the society and tries to go against it. Murdering, tormenting, and mocking people who are weak are unacceptable to Rainsford although the society allows it because they think that weaklings are not strong enough to survive the hardships of the world anyway thus creating the idea of “survival of the fittest”. On the contrary, Rainsford’s belief is good and he knows that whatever excuse the society has of openly targeting the weak or minority groups is not right. By rebelling against the society that uses excuses such as the “survival of the fittest” to conceal the fact that they are doing something morally not right, Rainsford demonstrates the fact that when it is evil, there is good as well that can counter evil.
Dick’s conflict with the society also displays the fact that good and evil have to coexist. In the beginning of the story, Dick goes up to the children who are playing football when the ball rolls to his way and gives the ball to the children with “his great black paw” (Wolfe 724). The word “paw” is used when describing a dog, or just animals in general. However, Dick is not a dog, but a human. The society views Dick as a dog, though, for he is an African and Africans are not treated well in the society. In fact, Africans are supposed to be the servants, slaves, and “dogs” that wag their tails in front of their masters.
Dick is a good person in the beginning as he teaches the children many things but does not join in games or sports because he does not want to hurt them. But still, Dick is treated less like a human being but just as a dog whose duty is to serve its master well. This treatment by the society to Dick, a good person who does not do anything bad yet, is not right and evil. Through the conflict between Dick and the society and the way in which the society treats Dick, it is evident that good and evil coexist – good Dick and the evil society. As the main characters battle for morality, it is evident that there is no absolute good in this world. Good and evil always go hand in hand, which is demonstrated through Rainsford’s struggle between what is right and what is wrong.
As he meets Zaroff, who thinks humans are the ideal quarry, Rainsford struggles between his desire to survive and his feelings about killing another human being; he thinks that hunting humans is murder in the beginning: “Hunting? General Zaroff, what you speak of is murder” but later on kills Zaroff so he can survive (Connell 19). The idea of killing a human being as a sport is just evil and wrong. Rainsford knows this, and he tries to keep his righteousness at first. However, his desire to survive overpowers in the end, which results in Rainsford discarding his moral standards and killing Zaroff. This action of his is an ironic thing to do for Rainsford as he thinks that killing another human being is not right and yet he still kills Zaroff. The good in Rainsford is not pure and it is eventually changed into evil just because Rainsford chooses his life over his righteousness.
Therefore, as displayed by Rainsford’s conflict between what is right and what is wrong, there is no absolute good in this world. Moreover, Dick demonstrates the fact that there is no absolute good in this world through his internal conflict with morality. As Dick gets hit by both a car and Lon Everett, a drunken white male, “the whites of [Dick’s] eyes were shot with red, his bleeding lips bared for a moment over the white ivory of his teeth” (Wolfe 727). People who have met Dick know that he is a good person and cannot do evil deeds. However, in Dick’s struggle against evil within himself that tells him to revenge and attack Lon Everett, he loses the fight against evil, which supports the fact that good is not unadulterated. Even a good person like Dick whom everyone praises, likes, and respects, can be taken over by evil and do wrong deeds as evil is in everyone, both the supposedly “good” people and the supposedly “bad” people.
Dick, a “good” person, is tainted with evil as well and nobody has pure good in himself, for he is more or less tainted with evil. Both Rainsford’s and Dick’s struggles against evil and how their good surrenders to evil explicitly disclose the fact that good cannot exist alone forever without turning into evil. Moreover, no definite distinction exists between good and evil as both Rainsford and Dick clash against other men. Rainsford starts to question good and by doing so, he creates the blurry line between good and evil. During the hunt between Rainsford and Zaroff, Rainsford knows that killing a human being is not right but he feels “an impulse to cry aloud with joy … [the moment] he heard the sharp scream of pain as the pointed stakes found their mark” (Connell 25). Joy is the first instinctive emotion that Rainsford feels in the face of another person’s pain.
In the beginning, the idea of killing another human being repulses him. But as the hunt starts and external conflict between Rainsford and Zaroff arises, Rainsford’s mindset changes and he starts to find joy and relief from somebody else’s pain and the fact that he could have killed Zaroff. This emotion of Rainsford’s demonstrates the fact that the line between good and evil is blurry and it takes a split second to change from good to evil, as Rainsford had done. Also, good and evil exist together and there is no definite good or evil, which is demonstrated by Dick’s relationship with the people around him as it takes a downturn. At first, people view Dick as a good man with no bad intentions but when Dick goes on a rampage, they killed Dick and “it was in this way, bullet-riddled, shot to pieces, open to the vengeful and the morbid gazes of all, that Dick came back to town” (Wolfe 739).
By brutally killing Dick without giving him a chance to explain his actions or a second chance to make up for his wrongdoings, the people turn evil. They kill Dick without any hesitation and regret, and this supports the fact that good and evil are always mixed together and it just takes Dick’s one mistake for the people who were good to Dick to suddenly turn against him and brutally kill him. Therefore, the external conflicts that Rainsford and Dick have with other people clearly attest the fact that good and evil are always mixed together. Both of the two short stories have internal and external conflicts that exhibit the fact that good cannot exist without evil and evil cannot exist without good. As Rainsford and Dick battle for morality within their inner selves and as they fight against the society and other men, it is evident that good and evil cannot exist without each other. Without each other, they lose their meanings altogether, so good and evil must coexist in order to classify themselves.
Furthermore, there is no absolute good in this world as every good has at least some evil in itself. Therefore, because no good is ever completely pure and no evil is ever completely nefarious, there is no definite distinction between good and evil. As seen clearly through the conflicts in the two short stories, “The Most Dangerous Game” and “The Child by Tiger”, good and evil share a relationship where it is impossible for them to exist alone without their counterpart, just like yin and yang in Chinese philosophy. Good and evil are the opposites of each other but they are complementary and interdependent on each other as well. Just like Laurell K.
Hamilton said, “there is no light without dark, no good without evil, no male without female, no right without wrong… Nothing can exist if its direct opposite does not exist”.