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The theme of justice plays a major role in To Kill a Mockingbird. Ideally, justice would be blind to race, gender or other differences yet, as shown in To Kill a Mockingbird, it isn’t and for the most part, justice is not served. Many innocent characters, or mockingbirds, are subject to the injustice of the prejudice folks of Maycomb County and, consequently, are destroyed. These mockingbirds include, but are not limited to, Boo Radley, Tom Robinson, Mayella Ewell and Jem Finch. Very little Justice is served in To Kill a Mockingbird because during that time period in the Southern United States prejudice and racism was prevalent, partially because the people of Maycomb are unable, or refuse to stand in each other’s shoes.
The only true voice of justice that exists in Maycomb belongs to Atticus who passes morality to his children and tries to instill his views of justice to the other individuals of Maycomb. The reason why Atticus is so just is because he possesses the ability to stand in another person’s shoes. Speaking out in a town full of emotionally ignorant and prejudice people is no easy task and Atticus ultimately fails at changing the views of the people of Maycomb. However, he does manage to make the people of Maycomb, especially the jury for Tom Robinson’s trial, think about their actions. Metaphorically, Atticus is putting the people of Maycomb and the prejudice of society on trial. Atticus realizes that the judicial system isn’t flawed but they jury of his peers is, who allow racial prejudice to interfere with their decisions and the outcome of the trial. Even though Atticus works in the Justice System, because of the outcome of the Tom Robinson trial, he knows that justice doesn’t always prevail. Atticus knows that the jury would be biased against Arthur Radley and therefore uses his principles and idea of what justice should be rather than rely on a judicial system that might be fallible and decides not to report him.
Both Tom Robinson and Boo Radley are mockingbirds who are destroyed by the injustice of Maycomb. Tom is an innocent man, yet when at a trial that any white man could win he is found guilty. In spite of the fact that everyone in the courtroom knew that he innocent, Tom Robinson was “licked before it even began” because of the racial views of the jury. Tom did not receive justice in the judicial system because he is black. Black people in general are subject to social injustice due to the racism in society and are not treated as equals. Boo Radley receives injustice at the hands of his father when he is locked in his house for life because of a minor indiscretion, a punishment which is far too severe for his minor crime. However, near the end of the book he receives justice when he isn’t subjected to the unfair judicial system for killing Bob Ewell. On the other hand Bob Ewell does receive justice when he is killed, even if the justice isn’t given in the court room. He was an abusive alcoholic who received what he deserved. His crimes included lying and abusing his children, among other things, and he finally received his punishment. Mayella Ewell, the daughter of Bob Ewell, can also be considered a mockingbird even though she was destroyed before the story takes place.
Justice, truth and judgment may seem similar but can actually be quite different. Justice is the pursuit to find the truth but is often affected by people’s views and biases. Justice is what the people want it to be. To find the truth you must listen to both sides of the story. In the court room Tom Robinson, through Atticus, tries to tell his side of the story but the jury doesn’t listen. In the Tom Robinson trial everyone knows that Tom Robinson is innocent yet the jury decides to ignore the truth and convict him anyways just because of their own bias, a prime example of injustice in a justice system. When Uncle Finch hits Scout without even hearing her side of the story he passes judgment without seeking the truth. The book shows use that in both small and large incidents alike one should attempt to see both sides of the story before judging. The difference between justice and the truth is that justice is affected and changed based on the prejudice of society while truth is the unbiased, untainted facts about what actually happened. Judgment is the result of the justice system and the punishment should reflect the crime. When the justice and truth are aligned then the judgment will be acceptable however if the justice and truth differ then the final verdict can be erroneous and harm the innocent.
All throughout To Kill a Mockingbird characters such as Tom Robinson suffer at the hands of evil men such as Bob Ewell. The abundance of racism in the Southern United States help convict an innocent man based entirely on the colour of his skin. When justice hasn’t been served and the truth is ignored then the innocent “mockingbirds” of the world suffer as a consequence.
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