To Kill a Mockingbird

Justice in To Kill a Mockingbird

Justice and its relationship with prejudice is the central theme of the timeless 1960 novel, Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird. Its focal point is the trial of Tom Robinson, an African-American erroneously charged with the rape of a white girl, Mayella Ewell. Racial prejudice is, of course, thoroughly explored in the novel. However, what originally transpires as discrimination develops into an inferno of injustice, particularly in the debasement and death of an innocent Samaritan, the impoverishment of his family and the humiliation of his race.

The story is narrated by the protagonist, Scout, as an adult woman nostalgically recalling her early childhood over a two-year period. It is presented with the naivete and youth which characterise the observations of an innocent. Because Scout does not perceive or understand the full implications of what she sees and hears, Lee is able contrast the consistency, justice and honesty of children and the double standards, prejudice and sordid adult values inherent in her revelations and mature characters. The first half of the novel revolves around the Scout’s childhood in Maycomb, a fictional “tired old town” in Alabama, before the alleged rape to enlighten readers on the entire social...

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