Do you agree with Heck Tate's views on justice in chapter 30? Explain.To Kill a Mockingbird by Heck Tate

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mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The decision of Heck Tate is wise considering the setting.  For in the 1930s, provisions were not made for exceptionalities.  The fact that Boo Radley is probably not normal psychologically would not enter into a trial as a mitigating factor as it would in modern times.

If Boo were brought to the jail, there would be, as Heck Tate worries, the curiosity seekers who would want to poke and peek.  Probably, Boo Radley would have a breakdown, or even kill himself in his panic at being made into an exhibition.  For, in the thirties, there were also not provisions made to protect people of diminished capacities.

Clearly, Heck Tate's decision is an altruistic one; it is also a wise one considering the times in which the narrative is set.

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missy575's profile pic

missy575 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Under normal circumstances, I would just say go ahead and arrest him and let the law decide. But, the character in question deserves his way of life preserved for what he did. The last time Boo Radley did something to deserve attention from the law, it took years of town speculation and harassment from his father.

Boo is a recluse, or a hermit. He values his privacy and could not stand the attention, even if it was about to be good attention, that the town would have given him for saving the day. This is why Heck Tate uses the "let the dead bury the dead" line with Atticus during this scene.

Heck's protection was the morally right thing to do, but that doesn't necessarily mean it was legally right. Sometimes we have to make a decision between the two.

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Yes, I definitely do.  However, it would not be such a great thing if all police officers approached their job like this.

What Heck Tate is doing is clearly what is best for everyone in the community.  Mr. Ewell is dead and he really deserved to be dead.  Boo Radley would not have been convicted of anything if Heck Tate had arrested him -- he would have been acquitted because he was just defending the Finch kids.

So nothing would have been gained by arresting him.  Now, you sort of don't want police acting like that, though, because then they are setting themselves up as the ones who decide who is guilty and who isn't.

But in this case, I think it was the best result possible.

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