Study Guide

Chinatown Injustice

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Incest, water theft, and murder are all forms of injustice. Noah Cross betrays his daughter and destroys their relationship by impregnating her. He betrays the public by stealing all the water from them during a drought. And he betrays Hollis by murdering him.

The movie acts like injustice is just a part of life—bad guys rip off the public and commit incest while good people ultimately can't do anything to stop them. This kind of injustice occurs at all levels in Chinatown—in society, in government, and in the family. Injustice is like the atmosphere of life itself. Really cheery stuff.

Questions About Injustice

  1. Does injustice often go unpunished, as in this movie? Can people really get away with terrible things without ever facing retribution?
  2. Can you think of any modern day examples similar to Noah's water-theft (not specifically involving water, but examples of corruption)? Compare and contrast them.
  3. How does the form of injustice depicted in this movie differ from other forms of injustice? Like, consider the difference between white-collar crime and other, non-white-collar kinds of crime.

Chew on This

Martin Luther King Jr. said, "the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice." If this is true, then we can expect that Noah's corruption will eventually self-destruct or be defeated in some other way.

"Nice guys finish last" is a well-known adage. If whoever said initially this was right, we can expect that Noah will continue to thrive in his wickedness—until he kicks the bucket, at least.

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