Describe the idea of "justice" as seen in To Kill a Mockingbird. How is this idea similar or different to our present day idea of "justice"?
The idea of justice differs among the many different people of Maycomb. Atticus believes justice should involve protecting the weak and innocent--be they black or white, men or women. Fairness in the courtroom and by the jury are sacred responsibilities, but Atticus knows that juries of the 1930s, without women or Negroes, can never be entirely trustworthy. Bob Ewell's idea of justice is quite different: He has successfully seen Tom Robinson falsely convicted of raping his daughter, but he is not satisfied with Tom's imprisonment or death. Bob's idea of justice seems to extend to somehow erasing his family's reputation as the "disgrace of Maycomb for three generations." His idea of justice includes vengeance on Atticus, and killing Atticus's children is an acceptable method. Maycomb's African American population doesn't expect Tom to be acquitted; they merely hope that Atticus's defense may present Tom with some sort of miraculous turnabout. According to Reverend Sykes, Judge Taylor
"... was mighty fair-minded... I thought he was leaning a little to our side." (Chapter 21)
To Sheriff Tate, Bob's own death at the hands of Boo Radley was true justice--for Tom and Atticus and the townspeople. Boo was
"... the one man who's done you and this town a great service an' draggin' him and his shy ways into the limelight--to me, that's a sin." (Chapter 30)