Study Guide

A Gathering of Old Men Justice and Judgment

By Ernest J. Gaines

Justice and Judgment

Maybe you've seen a statue or a pic of that lady in a billowy dress holding a set of scales in one hand and a sword in the other while wearing a blindfold. She might look like she's an act you might catch at Ringling Brothers Circus, but she's actually not a person at all—she's a symbol for justice. The scales represent how super important it is to weigh both sides of any argument. The sword represents punishment. The fact that she's blindfolded is meant to tell us that justice is "blind" or, in other words, doesn't play favorites. In <em>A Gathering of Old Men</em>, it's fair to say that justice doesn't necessarily work that way, if it works at all.

Questions About Justice and Judgment

  1. What are some common symbols or ideas associated with justice? Can you find any in A Gathering of Old Men?
  2. If you had to guess based upon the novel you've just read, does Gaines think there's such a thing as "blind" justice?
  3. Do all the characters in A Gathering of Old Men have the same idea of what justice is? Why or why not?

Chew on This

In A Gathering of Old Men, institutions and people supposedly working to uphold the law frequently do not or cannot as a result of racial prejudice.

There is a clear difference between justice and revenge as both play out in A Gathering of Old Men.

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