Two characters housed in one physical body: two distinct personalities battling to gain control of the body that houses them. Although the situation may sound unusual, it occurs daily in the process of decision making. Two divergent voices attempting to alter the decision making process for better or worse: conscience. In A Good and Happy Child, George’s conscience is extreme and he tries to choose good over evil. In the novel A Good and Happy Child by Justin Evans, the author houses the protagonist and the antagonist within the same character in order to create an inner conflict that keeps the reader interested.
Justin Evans gives the protagonist and the antagonist distinct physical and psychological differences in order to make them distinguishable within the same body. George, an eleven year old boy who wants nothing more than to live a normal life with Kurt and his mom, and his Friend, a scruffy, fuzzy looking figure who wants nothing more than to corrupt George and destroy his life. “ ‘Someone hoped I would be killed down there. Tom Harris, whom you already seem prepared to adopt as a foster father…’ I protested. ‘I don’t! I hate him!’ ” (Evans, 57). This quote demonstrates the disagreements that occur between George and his friend. Here, George’s friend is able to manipulate George into hating Tom Harris by convincing him that Tom wanted George’s father to die. As the plot progresses, George becomes less and less fond of his friend. This is particularly evident when his friend continually brings up a topic that is quite sensitive to George: the life and death of his father.
George’s friend continually uses the death of his father to gain leverage on George and to alter his opinions of people. George misses his father and is curious about how he died, this curiosity is what makes George vulnerable to his friend’s thoughts. Evans writes, “ ‘On that same night,’ he went on, ‘you claimed I knew why your father went to Central America. Do you remember that?’ I nodded. ‘What did you mean?’ I shrugged. ‘My Friend told me to say it. He never said what he meant.’ ” (Evans, 145). This quote shows how George’s friend manipulates not only George’s thoughts, but his actions. George also said that his friend did not provide an explanation for the statement; this shows that George is acting as his friend’s puppet. He is doing what his friend says without an explanation or reason for it. George is battling his friend daily and so far, George is losing. George’s friend’s suggestions are becoming increasingly violent and as a result, so is George.
The psychiatrists say that George’s friend is due to a mental disorder, that this ‘friend’ is simply part of George- a product of his disorder, but George is convinced that his friend has a separate identity, he believes it is a demon. George believes that his father got too close to defeating the demon and that the demon possessed and killed him. Now, the demon is coming after him to prevent him from following his father’s footsteps. George carries a carving of St. Michael to keep the demons at bay. George is seemingly cured after he claims that he fought and killed the demon. Twenty two years later, when his friend returns to ruin his life, George finally musters up the courage to face the demon head on. “I wrap the baby in my arms. I swear to him that I will never leave him, that I will stay, that I will protect him. That’s how we will break the curse, I whisper. Then the figure in the window opens the void of its mouth and screams” (Evans, 320). This quote narrates the resolution of George’s conflict. When George decides to hold his son and be the fatherly figure that he never had, George defeats the demon. George and his friend battled for years, but it was George that prevailed.
Although George’s friend ruined George’s childhood, George was ultimately able to defeat the demon.George’s friend may have won the battle, but George won the war. It is the inner conflict that keeps the reader interested, the battle between George and the demon that takes place within George’s mind. The demon proved to be quite powerful, demonstrating its evil desire through abuse and murder, but in the end, love proved to be even more powerful as George and his son began a new chapter, together.

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