An Analysis of Justice in To Kill a Mockingbird Essay Example
Justice, the concept of ethics and law that means that people behave in a way that is fair, equal and balanced for everyone, is a vastly explored topic in ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’. Concepts of racial bias and prejudice during the 1930’s when the was written, are confronted in detail within the book. Through the text, we learn that justice cannot always be served through a courtroom and a jury, there are other ways of achieving it. We are taught that the justice received is determined by the colour of your skin because of normalised racial discrimination and systematic racism that existed and still exists on a lesser scale within the justice system of America. Though in a much less extreme circumstance, the story does reflect the reality that black people still face today when it comes to the world of crime.
Justice is hard to serve when the system is racist, against all lack of evidence/proof it believes clear lies from the mouth of a white woman. We can learn that justice isn't fair when it comes between two races, due to existing prejudice against POC in the legal system. Though it is obvious that Mayella was “trying to get something clear to herself” and unsure of her story, her word is still taken over the one of a black man (Tom Robinson). There are many tells that Mayella is lying, such as changing her story and stuttering, “her face a mixture of terror and fury” she says, “No, I don't recollect if he hit me. I mean yes I do do, he hit me”, showing signs of nervousness and/or hard-thinking, but it is clear that these are ignored and looked over by the jury. The court doesn’t always serve justice to those who are indebted to it and sometimes can even prevent it from being rightfully given, minority groups at this time were not protected by the law, not because they were guilty or innocent but because of the way they looked, just like Tom Robinson, who is a black man. Though, time’s have changed, even now, deep-rooted prejudices against black people continue to live on in the justice/legal system.
Systemic racism is seen through the attitude of Heck Tate, the sheriff of Maycomb as he doesn't question Mayella's account of events and accepts that Tom Robinson is guilty almost immediately. When she identified him (Tom Robinson) as the perpetrator, he was taken into the station for a crime he didn’t commit. “She identified him as the one, so I took him in. That's all there was to it,'' he stated. After Tom was accused of the crime, Heck Tate declared that he was automatically guilty with no evidence or proof. He thought “it wasn’t necessary” to call a doctor to verify the events because it was “obvious” something had happened to Mayella. Heck Tate thinks that the events were “obvious” because Mayella is a white woman and Tom Robinson is a black man, from his perspective, he is certain that a POC such as Robinson would leap at the chance to rape a white woman. Under the circumstance that Tom Robinson was not black, just an average white man, the usual procedure to call a doctor after a raping would have been followed through. A clear example of racism is demonstrated, the sheriff reveals his prejudice against black people, something quite normalised at the time. As Heck Tate is the sheriff of Maycomb, he holds a great position of power in the eyes of the law, which gives him a considerable amount of influence on the minds of the people, therefore It would be accurate to assume that most white citizens of the town would have shared Heck Tate’s opinion. As a leader who is valued most for enforcing the law and bringing justice to victims, he is quite confident in openly expressing his prejudiced views, this showing the true flawed nature of the justice system.
Tom Robinson, the true victim of the story, is depicted by the author to be an innocent, kind and noble man, but despite this, the apparent dark shade of his skin has overruled all other traits, being the sole reason for his downfall. During the trial Tom claims that “he felt sorry for Mayella” because “she looked like she didn’t have nobody to help her”. The prosecutor follows with “You felt sorry for her? A white woman? You felt sorry for her?” The demeaning nature of his words display a clear form of racial prejudice. Robinson is described to be a gentleman, one who had always treated Mayella with the utter respect he “was probably the only person who was ever decent to her” Scout tells us. He was never guilty of any of the accused charges apart from ‘feeling sorry’ for Mayella, he was innocent. For An African American in the 1930s, publicly admitting in court to feeling pity for a white woman was overstepping societal bounds. Though he makes correct points and statements that should outweigh those of Mayella’s, he is understanding of the situation and it’s almost as if he awaits his punishment to be given in spite of being innocent. Being put in front of an all-white jury leaves him in an awkward position, like any rational person he is scared, but as a coloured person he is 10 times as fearful “Mr. Finch, if you was a n***** like me, you’d be scared, too” he says. To free Tom, who admittedly pities a white woman, the jury is supposedly voting to lessen their power over the black community whereas if they convict Tom, they do so knowing that they’re sentencing an innocent man to his death. Truthfully, the moment Bob and Mayella Ewell, two white people accused Tom Robinson, he was doomed. The system is so in favor of white people that he never stood a chance.
Justice remains a consistent theme throughout the entire book. Racism and discrimination are the main causes for injustices in the novel and the negative attitudes of the townspeople show the opinions of the US citizens at the time the book was written. Through the author’s explanation and exploration of justice we gain access to knowledge that allows us to understand the concept to its fullest extent. Harper Lee demonstrates that in a time of great division between the black and the white, when racism thrived at the very core of The United States, African Americans were the victims of severe injustices and racial bias/prejudice. By bringing forward these issues, the author has played a very important part in educating and teaching people around the globe the history of racism and its impacts.