“Justice is essential to a decent society” – Discuss this with reference tothe text To Kill a Mockingbird.


In a world increasingly troubled by hatred, greed and intolerance, the
search for solutions is one that undoubtedly thrives in the minds of each
individual conscious of the need for change Decency is a word that implies
basic moral standards, but it would surprise many torealisethe
difficulties these basic standards face in surviving, and it is an ideal
still yet to be achieved in our world. While justice, a quality humans have
tried to incorporate into everyday life since the beginning of time, may
not hold all the answers, it is definitely one of the essential elements
needed for a decent society.

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Justice is a quality that stands for the wellbeing of a community, not
certain individuals, and this stance alone makes justice a critical to a
decent society. A society that is burdened with the different and demanding
wants of individuals will only disintegrate into one where community is no
longer a word with meaning, where people will act solely for their own
benefits and basic morality would be lost. Justice gives us a set of morals
which are to be followed so a better life can be led by all. It is often
secretly despised as a result, because it cannotpossiblysatisfy
everyone’s desires, yet what we need for a decent society is common ideals
shared by the population for the greater good of all that dwell within the
community. In To Kill a Mockingbird the groups that have the strongest
bonds are those who are united in the same cause, be them positive or
negative. The group of ladies responsible of spreading gossip share a
desire to spark interest in the dull township. The Negroes display the
greatest unity when they combine to the cause of helping Tom Robinson.

Justice is the quality that has the power, however, to change the negative
ideals and motivations into ones that conform tofitwithinits
restrictions. Maycomb of To Kill a Mockingbird is a community that is
desperately in need of changes in attitudes – an eradication of prejudice,
the initial cause from which stems the town’s other problems. Had justice
been achieved in the courtroom trial of Tom Robinson, the town would have
moved to share some new values, values that encourage narrowing the gap
between blacks and whites. People would one day be united in the motivation
to see that selfish people such as the Ewells would not be allowed to
continue acting only in their own interests, “putting a man’s life at stake
– in an effort to get rid of her own guilt”. With these changes, we can
positively say that while Maycomb would not be perfect, it would be one
step closer to a righteous society. The strict conducts of justice would be
the only way to enforce law and order into societies like Maycomb and like
the ones we live in today, whose countless faults can only prove their
lacking qualities are preventing us from achieving a world of decency.


For justice to exist in a manner so that a decent society can be achieved
however, requires justice to be a sentiment that dwells within the hearts
of each and every individual who are part of that society. It is useless if
one person out of the billions in the world had a sense of justice within
them because reality is the power of one is not great enough in this case
to be influential to the enormous society he lives in. Justice being
implemented by a minority and opposed by a majority would be a futile
attempt to implant decency within the whole society. This is clearly
illustrated in the outcome of To Kill a Mockingbird. There is no doubt that
Atticus Finch, Miss Maudie and a small number of other characters in the
novel were fair-minded people, who stood for equal rights between all human
beings, yet as we can see, their influence was not enough to sway a society
steeped deeply in prejudice and injustice. In the jury for Tom Robinson’s
trial, there was a Cunningham who tried to make the other men see Tom’s
case in new light away from intolerance, but he was unsuccessful because
the opposition was too great. It cannot be denied that these minorities did
make an impact because every action is followed with a consequence. As Ms
Maudie said, the simple fact Atticus had managed to keep the jury out so
long was “making a step- it’s just a baby step, but it’s a step” However,
we cannot trick ourselves into the naivety of thinking that this one baby
step was adequate to completely change the attitudes in the Maycomb
society. The essence of justice is a unity of people’s values, in order to
create unity and fairness amongst people themselves.Theseemingly
unreasonable demand for people to discard their own dreams in the trust
that justice will bring benefits to all is a necessity. Atticus told
members of the jury, ” A court is only as sound as its jury, and a jury is
only as sound as the men who make it up.” We can apply this principle to
say that a world is only as sound as its communities, and a community is
only as sound as the people who make it up. To look at the argument of the
small impact of an individual from another perspective, it can also be said
that although one person’s evil intentions cannot corrupt the life of
billions, it does have an effect on some. Therefore each and every person
within a society must collaborate in the name of justice, before we can
achieve a society of absolute decency.


For those who wonder why justice must be such an integral part of a decent
society, the answer lies within basic human nature. It is the natural
tendency of mankind to yearn for a life without boundaries and limits and
such a life is granted by injustice. Without justice, the freedom for
individuals is boundless and those who desire this freedom the most take
advantage of it, abusing their status over others within the society, be it
their race, gender or wealth. Throughout history, we have seen the outcomes
of such a ‘free’ society – slavery, social class barriers, sexism and
general inequality. The activation of instincts of exploitation allowed by
an overindulgence of freedom can be seen in no better example than Maycomb
County. Maycomb is a place where “when it’s a white man’s word against a
black man’s, the white man always wins”, because the history of the
judicial verdicts have encouraged the deepening of racial prejudice.

Maycomb is a place where “the simple hell people give other people –
without even thinking” is a harsh reality, because the absence of attention
to mockingbirds who are injured lead people to believe inflicting such
injuries are acceptable. It is a place where an eight-year-old child’s
feelings of despair in his community and its people are echoed in the words
“There ain’t one thing in this world I can do about folks except laugh”.

The people of Maycomb have been able to allow actions to follow their evil
instincts because of freedom. This unreasonable freedom exists within
Maycomb because of injustice. There are no common standards of right and
wrong; no severe consequences to intimidate those who wish to make
someone’s life a living hell; no restrictions on how far one can take his
own desires. Justice’s righteousness and firmness is the key to controlling
the amount of freedom given to an individual. Control over the amount of
freedom given to an individual is the key to restraining selfish ideals.

The essentiality of justice to a decent community lies within its power to
suppress freedom for individuals, and instead encourage freedom for the
whole of society.


Through a society consequential of the injustice present in To Kill a
Mockingbird, Harper Lee has shown us how justice must exist, why justice
must exist and what would make it so successful in restoring order into our
chaotic world. Justice is essential, and its unswerving righteousness, if
present in each individual, will lead us one step closer to a society of
pure decency.