Study Guide

The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle Justice and Judgment

By Avi

Justice and Judgment

While we might think of justice and judgment as absolutes, The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle suggests that these concepts – especially "justice" – can mean different things to different people. Charlotte's father, for example, thinks justice is best served when members of the lower class absolutely respect those above them. In this sense, some people are perhaps more deserving of justice than others. Charlotte, however, as "the soul of justice" (12.109), will come to have a very different understanding of what it means to fair and balanced. Charlotte will learn that justice is best served when thought of not as a privilege but as a right for all people. Wrongfully convicted and sentenced to death, she experiences first-hand the consequences of a system that doesn't treat people equally.

Questions About Justice and Judgment

  1. Charlotte is referred to as the "soul of justice" by Zachariah (12.109). Why?
  2. How was Captain Jaggery able to convict Charlotte of a crime she did not commit?
  3. The book informs us that before Cranick came on the ship, the crew petitioned to bring his case before the admiralty courts, and were denied. What happens when the system fails? Is revenge a viable option?
  4. Why does Charlotte think no one will listen to Zachariah if he goes to the authorities? Who's voiceless in this novel?

Chew on This

Justice is impossible when the system that administers it is designed to privilege some people over others.

There will always be social inequalities; however, all people, regardless of race, class, or gender, stand equally before the law.