In the novel “A Time to Kill” by John Grisham, is about the racial violence and the uncertain justice of a black man on trial in a small southern town. Two drunken and remorseless young men shatters the life of a ten-year-old girl. In the mostly white town the people reacted with shock and horror at the inhumane crime, until her black father, Carl Lee Hailey, acquired an assault rifle and took justice into his own outraged hands. Being a black man in a white community, the people’s views were clear and distant as white for white and black for black, with a few white sympathizers. Often our judgment is thrown into confusion as we’re faced with difficult decisions and as our feelings deny us the chance to what’s right, all because of what we’ve been taught our whole life, such as prejudice.Being white in a community instinctively meant that he/she would be in favor for the plaintiff, but for those who sided with Carl Lee, they were primarily targeted as “nigger lovers” and was tormented by the KKK (Ku Klux Klan).
For example, Carl Lee’s lawyer, Jake Brigance, endured countless threats, the burning of his house, as well as being shot at by the KKK (454-455,425 respectively). Jake Brigance stood up for what he believed in even though at times it seemed as if the bottle for justice was lost. Those who were white and supported Carl Lee was singled out persecuted by the KKK. For instance, Jake Brigance’s law clerk,Ellen Roark, was tied to a tree and got beat up while she was going for a drive (431-433). She didn’t do anything to deserve such treatment, as she was only doing research for Jake. Even after her harsh, undeserved punishment, she still believed in the innocence of Carl Lee so she continued her work as soon as she was able to.
The Ku Klan Klan is a white supremacist organization and they will do anything to hurt anyone assisting or defending Carl Lee.Deep in people’s hearts, they know that raping a girl is morally wrong, but just because Carl Lee was black, they still insisted to believe that he is guilty of the murder of Billy Ray Cobb and Pete Willard even though they deserved it. For example, when Harry Rex Vonner testified in court he said ” I think you’re a lying coward when you claim you would not want to kill the man who raped your daughter” (246). As like Harry Rex Vonner the community and nation had mixed feelings concerning the trial when they pictured themselves in the position of Carl Lee. Life for Carl Lee and his family will never be the same after this trial especially for his daughter, Tonya Hailey’s. In addition, Tonya Hailey will forever be haunted by the memories of the rape and the news of the doctors that she can never experience the life of motherhood (221). Every kid is entitled to have a normal childhood full of joy and energy but in less than one day, Tonya’s life was forever changed.
Tonya will need to live the rest of her life, trying to be stronger than everyone else needs to be, as to the account of what she suffered through. It is plainly wrong and obscene what these two men did to Tonya and what even worse is that some people blame Carl Lee for his injustice actions.To really see the reason why Carl Lee killed Cobb and Willard is to change the colors from white to black and black to white. For example, when the hung jury was encouraged to imagine that the rapists were blacks and the little girl was white (503-504). By doing this, all the jurors voted not guilty because they finally realized what it felt like, being a parent and for this to happen to their daughter. Before this the jurors tried to vote on what was conscientiously right by looking at the evidence, but some were just too prejudice to even judge the cause by the evidence.
For instance, a juror named Rita Mae Plunk was unforgiving, for when she had the chance to express her feelings she said “I voted guilty yesterday in the first vote, and I’ll vote guilty next time. I don’t see how anybody could vote not guilty, and I want just one of you to explain to me how you could vote in favor of this nigger!” (492). Rita has two sons, and both were as prejudice as she was. She was convinced that Carl Lee was guilty with the support of her sons and due to Carl Lee’s skin color. All the people had to do was to look beyond the color of the skin and look into their hearts and ask themselves what they truthfully would do if their daughter were raped.As a parent, people teach their sons and daughters the difference in what’s is right and wrong, but sometimes our decisions are altered by how society looks at people who are different.
People who can’t see beyond the color of the skin is often arrogant, selfish and is too self absorbed to realize the harm caused to other people. The only positive way to comprehend the emotions of Carl Lee is to take his place and suffer as he had during the ten-day period of the trial and the lifetime of racism he experienced. This doesn’t often happen today in our society any longer but wherever people go there will still be prejudice in some manner