Justice and Fairness in The Island and To Kill a Mockingbird

Fairness and justice are integral components as they foster harmony and trust in society. However, various individuals in the world constantly ignores both these critical virtues. As a result, the precedent has caused acute violations of the rights of certain groups of people. This analysis assesses two specific readings to provide insights on the topic of discrimination and its adverse effects on the wellbeing of humankind over various periods in history and distinct geographical locations. As such, the study will draw from experiences conveyed by authors of the texts in question to enforce the assertions of the research. The constructs of social justice and fairness are necessary for any society that wishes to live in harmony. Where the commitment to treat other people fairly and in a just way is lacking within a social system, the most basic entitlements to man such as the right to life are not guaranteed.

Justice and Fairness as Portrayed in the Text To Kill a Mockingbird

The seeds of injustice and discrimination are sown at the family level as the children grow up towards becoming fully formed human beings. Harper Lee illustrates this assertion using Miss Caroline Fisher, a new teacher, and newcomer at Maycomb, who illuminates the traditions of the town and deep-rooted social traits regarding discrimination (“What is significant about the character of Miss Caroline Fisher in the novel To Kill a Mockingbird?”). Miss Caroline is adamant that the young Scout should refrain from being indoctrinated by her progressive father Atticus who is willing to defend a white man accused of raping a white woman. Lee reckons that:

“Miss Caroline told me to tell my father not to teach me anymore, it would interfere with my reading”  “Now you tell your father not to teach you anymore. It is best to begin reading with a fresh mind. You tell him you’ll take over from here and try to undo the damage. Your father does not know how to teach” (19).

The fact that Atticus is willing to help a Black man get a fair hearing is strange in the otherwise conservative Southern America, which views Black people with disdain. Miss Caroline represents what the rest of the white community in the country think and feel about the African Americans, while Atticus is the voice of equality in the text committed to obtaining a fair trial for the disadvantaged in the society.

Atticus Finch is a symbol of justice and equality in the text To Kill a Mockingbird. He has chosen to defend an African American man Tom, despite all the trouble it is likely to cause him in a society where racism and unjust treatment of the minority ethnic groups is heavily embedded in the culture. Atticus explains to Scot that the reason for defending the Black man is “if I did not defend him (Tom Robinson) then I cannot hold my head up. I cannot even tell Jen and you (Scot) not to do something again” (Lee 20). The way Atticus chooses to raise his children shows his commitment to maintaining a mature bond with them, especially in how he answers their questions in a calm, polite and mature manner. The setting in America where the text is based depicts a country that is committed to subjecting the Black Americans to squalid living conditions. Jean observes that:

“No truant officer would keep any of the Ewells in school. No public officer would free them from the filth and disease. Good times or bad, they lived off the county-in a cabin by the garbage dump near a small negro settlement” (Lee 12).

The assertions by Jean represent the enormity of the responsibility Atticus has thrust upon himself by electing to help a Black person in a society that looks determined to exploiting them (Dave 81). The text also praises the conviction and strong character of Atticus, who ensures that the dignity of a person is upheld.

In the context of the widespread racial discrimination in the Southern United States, Atticus represents the voice of reason and equality. His decision to defend the Black man stems from his convictions that all men should be treated equally in a society that is too steeped in racial discrimination. To convey his beliefs on love for all and fair treatment, Atticus is tells his daughter Scout that: “We will be fighting our friends. But remember no matter how bitter things get, they’re still our friends and this is still our home” (Lee 20).  At this instance, the author conveys to his audience the importance of maintaining love and respect for the rest of the people in Maycomb despite their continued indifference towards the wellbeing of the oppressed. Atticus also believes that it is wrong to profile individuals by race and seeks to impart the same beliefs to his children. For example, he admonishes his daughter Scout for asking him whether he “defends the niggers” (Lee 19). Atticus believes that categorizing people as based on their racial background is the catalyst of denying them equal treatment in the society, hence forbids his daughter from following the trend that was so prevalent in the American culture at the time.

The author of the text uses convictions of the lawyer Atticus to highlight the importance of rising above stereotypes and doing what is right in Maycomb. The efforts Atticus Finch exerts in the Tom Robinson case are not because the defendant is African American, but because the highly principled lawyer believes that the man innocent (Castleman). He knows that the case will possibly end up in defeat, but he is still adamant that he has to defend Tom (Lee 19). Atticus abhors criminal law despite being highly experienced in the legal profession (Castleman). The character of Atticus is used by the author to project the importance of having people with a firm conviction and the positive effect it has in the broader society (Jones 53). The significance of the strong character portrayed by Atticus helps reinforce the idea that justice and fairness are fundamental towards fostering a community where the rights of all humans are guaranteed, including the right to live.

Atticus is the moral guide and voice of conscience in the text To Kill a Mockingbird. His beliefs are steadfast, and he consistently seeks to teach his children the importance of treating other people fairly despite their ethnic background. He is rigidly committed to ensuring justice and fairness to all people, a trait he borrows from his legal knowledge (Jones 53). His wise parenting earns him the respect of his children who are at first embarrassed by the fact that he looks older than the other fathers and does not hunt or fish (Lee 21). The steadfast conviction that Atticus preaches throughout the text is critical towards conveying the beliefs of the author on being sympathetic to the plight of the minority and the oppressed in the society (Sparknotes). Through Atticus, Harper Lee voices his concern that the society needs to be mindful of protecting the rights of the weak from undue influence by the evil machinations in the community (Sparknotes). Atticus is committed to ensuring that his children are committed to making the best decisions regarding treatment of all people in a fashion, which embraces various perspectives.

Atticus recognizes that people have good and bad qualities, although it is committed to consistently observing the former while understanding the perspective of the bad qualities of people. He tells his children “They’re certainly entitled to think that, and they’re entitled to full respect for their opinions, but before I can live with other folks I’ve got to live with myself. The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience” (Lee 120). The way he raises his kids, especially after the death of his wife Jean Graham Finch shows that he is keen to teach them the importance of always seeing the good in people. Moreover, Atticus Finch implores on his children that “You never really see the good in people until you consider things from his point of view” (Lee 36). Atticus is adamant that he wants his children to be empathetic about other people’s situations. The strong convictions that Atticus adopts are critical towards understanding the view of the author towards fairness and justice in the society (Sparknotes). Lee Harper uses the Maycomb setting to illustrate his point that unless the nation begins to appreciate the positive aspects among different people and view the bad attributes from their perspective, it will be virtually impossible accord fundamental rights to the oppressed and the minority in the society.

Fairness and Justice in The Island

The text is set in the Greek island of Spinalonga where the main character Alexis decides to visit in a bid to learn about her mother’s heritage. Victoria Hislop develops the plot to cover the themes of discrimination and equality especially regarding the treatment of people suffering from leprosy in Crete. The Isle of Spinalonga was a colony that hosted people suffering from the killer disease of leprosy from 1905 to the mid-20th century (Piegsa-Quichotte). The poor treatment of people with the disease is a significant focus of the novel, although other themes of equality and fairness also begin to manifest themselves including mistreatment of the poor by wealthy landowners in the Greek island. Stigma accorded to people suffering from leprosy provides concrete evidence to the belief that equal treatment for all people is critical towards giving them even the right to life.

When Alexis finally arrives in Crete, she notices how much the lepers yearn for a world of freedom devoid of any form of discrimination. She contends that: “She had derived great pleasure from her day of solitude and relished this moment of freedom and independence. Freedom was not something any of the lepers would ever have enjoyed, she thought, but had they gained something else instead?” (Hislop 30). Through her, the reader understands the plight of the poor and the oppressed in the society. Additionally, the author uses Alexis as a device to communicate the feelings that Hislop believes should be adopted by the community when treating the poorest and weakest among humankind (My Book Affair). The plot development in the text is a culmination of strong convictions held by the author on the importance of treating all kinds of people in the society in a just and fair manner irrespective of the physical conditions in which they may find themselves.

The journey Alexis made to Spinolanga is motivated by the desire to understand why her mother favored a highly secretive life. Upon getting to Greece, the hidden events in her mother’s life begin to unfold, giving the young character essential insights into various events, which shaped her parent’s outlook on life (Piegsa-Quichotte). In recognition of this fact, the author reckons that: “She knew instinctively that this might be the best investment of time she could ever make, and there was no doubt that her mother’s story could help her more in the long term than yet another museum visit. Even though she knew it was an act of almost callous disregard for him, she felt this opportunity justified a little selfishness” (Hislop 38). The treatment that her mother previously accorded Alexis’ father was deemed discriminatory by the main character.However,the different perspective from people who knew Sofia informs a radical change in opinion in the eyes of Alexis (My Book Affair). The main character begins appreciating the lives of lepers who have been forced to stay at the Spinalonga colony due to their condition.

The character of Alexis in the text portrays a person who is nice and considerate to the feelings of other people. Back in the year 1939, people who contracted leprosy in the society were banished to an island in Spinolanga. Alexis feels that isolation is inhumane treatment of people whose only crime was contacting leprosy (Hislop 39). Hislop uses Alexis to convey the feelings of pity towards people who have to be separated from their families and forced to live in a separate place. She asserts that: “everyone on this island is a citizen of Greece…they have rights and I will be damned if I do not fight for them” (Hislop 106). It is worth noting, however, that during the period when infected individuals were expelled from society, there was no cure for the disease, which was highly contagious. As a result, it makes sense to banish people to a specific place that is far away to help control the spread of the deadly infection. Nevertheless, the reader feels the point of view held by the author, that all humans deserve equal and fair treatment regardless of the calamity that has befallen them in their lifetime (My Book Affair). The novel encourages other people to embrace a loving attitude towards the sick, arguing that it is essential to help such individuals lead better and more fulfilling lives.

Life seems to have changed for the better regarding how Spinolanga treats the people suffering from leprosy. Papadimitriou observes this turn of events, exclaiming that: “no longer are we the outcasts with begging bowls crying, Unclean! Unclean! Now others come to us to seek alms (Hislop 116). While the apparent disdain towards lepers in the Greek Island has not changed, other people begin noticing them and acknowledging their existence in the society. Gradually, the rights of the people suffering from the condition of leprosy are observed as treatment borders a more humane approach compared to the past (Hislop 118). The conditions begin to improve especially with the fashion with which the sick people are treated, which is manifested by the enhanced ability to enjoy life like any other people living in the island in Crete (Piegsa-Quichotte). The author uses the setting to highlight the importance of treating other people in a fair and respectful way, which is seen with their improved physical and emotional health.


Basic human liberties such as the right to live are not guaranteed where the principles of justice and fairness lack in the social system. The books To Kill a Mockingbird and The Island allude to this testament through the plot development adopted by their respective authors. To Kill a Mockingbirduses the firm and consistent beliefs of a Caucasian lawyer named Atticus Finch who decides to defend an African American man accused of raping a Whitewoman. The novel follows the life of the man, including giving the reader an insight to the kind of thinking which compels him to take the bold initiative even though the majority of the society condemns the Black man named Tom. Through his conversations with his young children and the wider community and his passionate presentations in court, the author conveys her feelings on the subject of racial equality for all peoples living in America devoid of any form of discrimination.

Also, Victoria Hislop in the novel The Island uses the journey of a young Alexis to a small Greek island named Spinalonga where those suffering from leprosy are banished. The author explains how the quality of life for the lepers improves after island dwellers start treating them better unlike the poor handling when Alexis first arrived. The theme of equality and a society free from racial discrimination as explored by the author is reinforced by the pain, which lepers feel given how the society treats them because of their condition. Through Alexis, the author asks some intimate humane questions, such as why people who did not choose to suffer from a particular condition need to be separated from their families. The two novels highlight deep issues in the society, especially those touching on unfair treatment and utter disregard for human life over the years.


Work Cited

Castleman, Tammy. “To Kill a Mockingbird.” CliffsNotes. https://literature/t/to-kill-a-mockingbird/to-kill-a-mockingbird-at-a-glance.

Dave, R. A. “To Kill a Mockingbird: Harper Lee’s Tragic Vision.” Indian Studies in American Fiction, 1974.

Lee, Harper. “To Kill a Mockingbird.” Litigation (1990): 68-58.

Hislop, Victoria. “The Island.” Headline. 2008.

Jones, Carolyn. “Atticus Finch and the Mad Dog: Harper Lee’s” To Kill a Mockingbird.” Southern Quarterly 34.4 (1996): 53.

My Book Affair. “My Book Affair.” The Island ~ Victoria Hislop, 9th June 2012 www.mybookaffair.net/2012/06/island-victoria-hislop.html.

Sparknotes LLC. “To Kill a Mockingbird Main Ideas.” Sparknotes. https://www.sparknotes.com/lit/mocking/themes/. Accessed on: 22nd January 2019.

Piegsa-Quischotte, Inka. “The Defiant Spirit of Spinalonga, an Island of Exiles.” Literary Traveller.https://www.literarytraveler.com/articles/hislop_spinalonga/. Accessed on: 22nd Jan 2019.

“What is significant about the character of Miss Caroline Fisher in the novel To Kill a Mockingbird?  ” eNotes, 1 Feb. 2016, https://www.enotes.com/homework-help/what-significant-character-miss-caroline-fisher-612283.


Do you need high quality Custom Essay Writing Services?

Custom Essay writing Service