Atticus Finch Quote 1 “Atticus, you must be wrong…. ” “How’s that? ” “Well, most folks seem to think they’re right and you’re wrong…. ” (11. 54-56) If there’s one thing that we learned from jeggings, Uggs, and chain wallets, it’s that the majority isn’t always right. But Atticus doesn’t need anyone to teach him those lessons. He already knows that individual conscience is a better guide to justice than majority opinion.
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. “Atticus had used every tool available to free men to save Tom Robinson, but the secret courts of the men’s hearts Atticus had no case. Tom was a dead man the minute Mayella Ewell opened her mouth and screamed. (CH. 25 Pg. 244). Atticus is a lawyer in a southern town during the great depression. He is defending a black man in a town where racism is an every day aspect of life. He knows he’s lost even before the court was in session, but he fights for justice in a place where true justice was rare. The theme of the book To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee, is how justice is flawed, at that time. It can hurt even the purest of innocence and the guilty can win. To understand this book very well, we must understand when it was written which was during the Civil Rights movement….
The central thematic concern of To Kill a Mockingbird addresses racial prejudice and social justice. Atticus Finch represents a strongly principled, liberal perspective that runs contrary to the ignorance and prejudice of the white, Southern, small-town community in which he lives. Atticus is convinced that he must instill values of equality in his children, counteracting the racist influence. Lee makes use of several images and allegories throughout the novel to symbolize racial conflict. The children’s attitudes about Boo, for example, represent in small scale the foundation of racial prejudice in fear and superstition.
The rabid dog that threatens the town has been interpreted as symbolizing the menace of racism. Atticus’s shooting of the rabid dog has been considered by many critics as a representation of his skills as an attorney in targeting the racial prejudices of the town. The central symbol of the novel, the mockingbird, further develops the theme of racial prejudice. For Christmas, Scout and Jem are given air rifles by their father, who warns that, although he considers it fair to shoot other birds, he views it a “sin to kill a mockingbird” because they “don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. The mockingbird represents victims of oppression in general, and the African-American community more specifically. The unjust trial of Tom Robinson, in which the jury’s racial prejudice condemns an innocent man, is symbolically characterized as the shooting of an innocent mockingbird. Toward the end of the novel, Scout realizes that submitting Boo to a trial would be akin to shooting a mockingbird—just as the prejudice against African Americans influences the trial of Tom Robinson, the town’s prejudices against the white but mentally disabled Boo would likely impact a jury’s view.
The concept of justice is presented in To Kill a Mockingbird as an antidote to racial prejudice. As a strongly principled, liberal lawyer who defends a wrongly accused black man, Atticus represents a role model for moral and legal justice. Atticus explains to Scout that while he believes the American justice system to be without prejudice, the individuals who sit on the jury often harbor bias, which can taint the workings of the system.
Throughout the majority of the novel, Atticus retains his faith in the system, but he ultimately loses in his legal defense of Tom. As a result of this experience, Atticus expresses a certain disillusionment when, at the conclusion of the book, he agrees to conceal Boo’s culpability in the killing of Ewell, recognizing that Boo would be stereotyped by his peers. Atticus decides to act based on his own principles of justice in the end, rather than rely on a legal system that may be fallible.