Study Guide

A Confederacy of Dunces Justice and Judgment

By John Kennedy Toole

Justice and Judgment

Justice in A Confederacy of Dunces is mostly a way to blackmail or rob people. Lana Lee uses the threat of an arrest for vagrancy to force Burma Jones to sweep her floors for next to nothing; Abelman leaps on the abusive letter Ignatius sends as a way to sue Mr. Levy for all he's worth; and Ignatius threatens to sue just about everyone for everything. The police themselves mostly seem to be in the business of harassing people not so much to keep the city safe as in order to be able to say that they put someone in jail so that they can take pictures of themselves (as Mancuso does at the end of the novel).

In short, justice is simply a good way to score points. It's basically a weaponized form of bickering.

Questions About Justice and Judgment

  1. Do any of the characters in the novel receive justice? Explain your answer.
  2. What do Boethius's actions suggest about justice? Does Ignatius take his lessons to heart?
  3. Is Ignatius motivated by a desire for justice in organizing the factory workers? Is anyone in the novel motivated by a desire for justice?

Chew on This

Everybody in the novel is treated unjustly, which is a kind of justice.

The law in the novel functions as a systemized form of injustice.

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