John Steinbeck, the narrator, tells a story about how he and sister Mary, when hatred of Germans had reached a fever pitch, harassed and insulted one of Salinas’s German citizens. The narrator says he has always felt bad about this act.
Another interlude from the narrator reveals a crucial reality about the nature of evil: John succumbed to nationalistic fervor and harassed an innocent man. But just as significant as his transgression is his repentance: he knows he has done wrong. Good once again exists alongside evil, and redemption is always an option.