Justice and injustice are both seen on many levels every day. Humans attempt to resolve issues by utilizing authority the way they deem necessary, which raises the question of whether it is necessary, or fair even. Justice is a paradox, and cannot be achieved in a truly integral matter. This has been proven by Harper Lee in her novel, To Kill a Mockingbird. Justice can never be fair for everyone. After Bob Ewell was murdered, eight children were wrongly denied a father figure to supply food and money. Humans are naturally corrupt and biased; therefore, they cannot truly dispense justice. This was proven when the jury convicted Tom Robinson for the sole reason that he was of a different ethnicity from the majority. In addition to that, justice is opinionative, and all humans are different. Scout thought that it was justified to assault her cousin, Francis, while Aunt Alexandra, Uncle Jack, and Atticus Finch thought it was far from legitimate punishment. When humans think justice has been served, there will always be people who experience unjustified circumstances.
Justice cannot exist because there will always be people who suffer unfair treatment due to the illusion of justice. This was exemplified when Heck Tate stated, “There’s a black boy dead for no reason, and the man responsible for it’s dead. Let the dead bury the dead this time, Mr. Finch.” (Page 304). This led to the assumption that Bob Ewell had been rightfully executed. However, two wrongs do not make a right, and as Atticus Finch explained, “I don’t know of any landowner around here who begrudges those children any game their father can hit.” (Page 34) That means that without their father, Bob Ewell’s children will starve. Where was the kids’ justice? Jem Finch decided to take justice into his own hands when he “did not begin to calm down until he had cut the tops off every camellia bush Mrs. Dubose owned…” (Page 114). In Jem’s mind, he was creating justice. However, it is unfair for Mrs. Dubose’s servant, who did nothing wrong and had to have the flowers she worked hard on destroyed for no reason. Injustice also happens in this sense when considering parents being arrested for anything. Families are torn apart because one of their major functioning participants have been taken away. It is not fair for an entire family to be torn apart because of one person’s mistake.
Humans are naturally corrupt and biased, hindering justice to a point of impossibility. An obvious example of human corruption was shown when Tom Robinson was persecuted for a crime he didn’t commit just because he was black. According to Scout Finch, Miss Gates claimed, “...it’s time somebody taught ’em a lesson.” (Page 272). She is referring to black people, prejudicially alluding to the generalization that all black men are guilty and should be punished. After attempting to create justice by assaulting Walter Cunningham for getting her in trouble, Scout said, “He ain’t company, Cal, he’s just a Cunningham” (Page 27). Scout is prejudicially trying to justify assaulting and disrespecting Walter because of his predecessor’s actions, which skewed her sense of justice. When Heck Tate says, “If it was any other man, it’d be different. But not this man, Mr. Finch,” (Page 304), he is letting Arthur Radley get away with murder because of his biased opinion that the man deserved to die and that Arthur did not deserve to go to jail. Bias happens often in modern justice systems in the case of sexual assault. Men are prejudicially assumed to be rapists and women are easily believed when falsely accusing men of sexually assaulting them. Along with that, women get less jail time on average when charged for sexual assault. Justice is judged by what the prosecuting party’s opinion is, and all people have differing opinions. Scout thought it was justified to assault Francis for insulting Dill and Atticus, so it was narrated that, “This time, I split my knuckle to the bone on his front teeth.” (Page 93). Aunt Alexandra, Uncle Jack, and Atticus Finch all disagreed that justice was served. Jem Finch disagreed with the justice system and said, “Yessir, but the jury didn’t have to give him death—if they wanted to they could’ve gave him twenty years.” (Page 242) In his opinion, true justice was not served, yet in the opinion of the United States of America, justice was served. No one can say which opinion is correct. The lynch mob in chapter 15 was an example of a group of people thinking that justice was not being carried out, so they tried to take justice in their own hands and kill Tom Robinson themselves. Atticus Finch did not agree that the mob would be creating justice, so he decided to stop it. Justice is the same today. In Islam, it is punishable by law for drinking even minute amounts of alcohol, and in Christianity, there is only punishment in extreme or excessive cases. Both religions believe that they are creating true justice.
Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird proves that justice is a paradox by showing that justice is never fair for everyone, justice is dispensed by biased people, and justice is different to every human. Justice cannot be achieved in a justified manner; therefore, it is impossible. Humans cannot create justice, because it does not exist, but society can attempt to get as close to it as possible. There will always be room to improve our ways. People worldwide have seen justice-induced injustices, such as biased prosecutors, flawed justice systems, and things that do not fit their own description of justice, so society needs to find a way to work around these obstacles and create the closest representation of what it thinks justice is. The governmental justice system is never true justice, but is street justice truly any better?
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