Justice as a theme in "To Kill a Mockingbird" and the films "Murder on a Sunday Morning" and "I am Sam".

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Justice and the Individual Essay

‘Justice will always be an issue for individuals and society as a whole.’ Discuss in relation to prescribed text TKMB and 2 other related texts. 1 must be your own.


For individuals and society as a whole, justice will always be an issue. In the novel To Kill a Mockingbird the author Harper Lee has addressed the issue of racial prejudice and social injustice in a community. The author presents a role model for moral and legal justice in the character of Atticus Finch, both an honourable man and lawyer, who tries to create justice for all. The issue of social injustice and prejudice are also explored in the documentary, Murder on a Sunday Morning directed by Jean-Xavier de Lestade and the film I am Sam directed by Jessie Nelson. Both texts convey the idea that certain individuals are victims of intolerable injustices in society because of their race or mental capacity.

Harper Lee uses a range of techniques to allow the reader to see that justice will always be an issue for individuals and society as a whole. The title of the novel contains very literal connection to the plot, but it carries a great deal of symbolic weight in the book.  In a story of innocence destroyed by evil, the ‘mockingbird’ comes to represent innocence and victims of social prejudice. Thus Atticus warns his children not to shoot a mockingbird, both literally and figuratively, as “it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.” This symbolism of the mockingbird is linked specifically with the unjust trial of Tom Robinson and his death, which is likened “to the senseless slaughter of song birds.” It is symbolic of a mockingbird being shot down when Tom is accused of the rape of Mayella Ewell, a white girl, thus putting his word, the word of a “sorry negro” against the word of a white woman. His crime being that he “felt sorry” for a white woman, and that “all Negros lie, that all Negros are basically immoral beings.” Through this the racial prejudice which is specifically targeted toward the African-American community, is clearly illustrated.

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The idea that justice will always be an issue for the individual is further illustrated by the injustice shown towards Boo Radley all throughout the novel by the people of Maycomb. As well as being a symbol of the Mockingbird, Boo is also a source of childhood superstition for the Jem and Scout; a superstition that is fuelled by Maycomb’s “usual disease.” Scout learns however that it doesn’t matter what society has conveyed Boo to be, “you never really know a man until you stand in his shoes and walk around in the.” She has felt and understood the ...

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