Form and Content

(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

Justice and Her Brothers, which takes place during a hot summer week, is told primarily from the point of view of Justice Douglass, the protagonist. Virginia Hamilton does, however, occasionally reveal the point of view of other characters, a move that sometimes seems abrupt or startling but that adds more depth and complexity to the novel than Justice’s limited perceptions could provide. While the action of the plot can be sketched fairly simply, the novel focuses on Justice’s changing relationship to her brothers, on both the supernatural and the domestic level.

Mrs. Douglass has begun taking college classes during the day, and Justice and her brothers are left alone for the first time. It is a lonely and difficult time for Justice, and much of the emotion of the novel comes from her turmoil. Levi helps take care of Justice—he cooks for all three children and intercedes with his brother for her occasionally—but Thomas is antagonistic and angry, frequently calling her names or shouting at her. In the opening scene of the novel, Justice sees one of Thomas’ drumsticks move on its own and is frightened; this incident establishes both the supernatural aspects of the novel and the tension between Thomas and Justice.

The events of the novel move on two parallel tracks, one toward the Great Snake Race, which Thomas has organized for all the boys in the neighborhood, and one toward Justice’s realization of her psychic powers and...

(The entire section is 519 words.)