Study Guide

On the Waterfront Justice and Judgment

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Justice and Judgment

True facts: no one doles out justice like Batman. But if Batman's not at hand, you can always turn to the, uh, Waterfront Crime Commission.

That's what Terry does eventually in On The Waterfront. But, in order to get to that point, he needs to have Father Barry and Edie hound him. They have to convince him that justice doesn't mean pushing snitches off roofs or crushing them with whiskey—justice is snitching (on murderers). Justice isn't exploiting people and stealing their money, but fighting for a common good.

Questions About Justice and Judgment

  1. What's the best way of serving justice against Johnny? Ideally, what should happen to him, and does true punishment fall on him by movie's end?
  2. What's Father Barry's ideal of justice? Why does he think someone should be just?
  3. How does Father Barry view the crucifixion?
  4. Why does Edie think that people should be just?

Chew on This

True justice means "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth." If that's the case, On the Waterfront didn't really fulfill justice because Johnny and the henchmen who killed Joey, Dugan, and Charley are still alive.

True justice is being fulfilled at the end of On the Waterfront, because justice isn't about "an eye for an eye." It's about taking power away from those who shouldn't have it, and making sure that they're never able to hurt anyone again.

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