Study Guide

The Fall Justice and Judgment

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Justice and Judgment

Much of The Fall has to do with the human fear of being judged by others, along with the human tendency to judge everyone, including the self. The narrator of this fictional "confession" claims that it is the very process of judgment that we hate – not the end result of punishment. Meanwhile, our protagonist, Jean-Baptiste, derives power from judging others, which he justifies by simultaneously judging himself. Justice, too, is a main focus of the novel. The Fall suggests that true "justice" is elusive, if it even exists at all, in a world where all are guilty and hypocritical.

Questions About Justice and Judgment

  1. While living the good life in Paris, Jean-Baptiste used to believe in justice. After his "fall," he suddenly finds the word disgusting. What new realization led to this transition? What is it about justice that so angers Jean-Baptiste now?
  2. Does judgment result in justice? Under what conditions? Jean-Baptiste spends a fair amount of time talking about judgment without a rubric; does this kind of judgment preclude justice?
  3. Does Jean-Baptiste’s confession function effectively as a judgment of you? Does the novel, as one critic puts it, "implicate us all"?

Chew on This

In The Fall, the narrator is conversing with himself. This explains why his judgment functions simultaneously a confession.

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