Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 10th grade August 2001

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In a courtroom, the judge has the final decision, but should the law be taken into the hands of people with less authority? What would happen if someone found out that the law was not followed correctly, or not at all? These were some conflicts addressed in the novel To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Sometimes, an individual realizes that if a situation reaches the point where it is brought to a higher official, many things could go wrong. There might not be enough evidence to prove the truth, even though the real truth might be already known. The red tape of our judicial system would get in the way. The results of an individual's actions might serve justice better than a courtroom would have. The law should be looked at as if it were one of those bendable rulers- very straight and precise- but if it needs to be, it can be bent.

Obviously, certain circumstances call for certain measures. Each individual has their own story about what happened and why the sequence of events are the way they are. Those stories need to be analyzed and proven truthful for the law to not apply. Many times, reasons are looked upon as excuses, but in reality, the reasons should be taken seriously. In To Kill a Mockingbird, an innocent man named Arthur "Boo" Radley saved two children, Jeremy and Jean Louise Finch, from being killed by a vengeful man named Bob Ewell, by stabbing him. Earlier in the novel, Ewell falsely accused an innocent man named Thomas Robinson of raping his daughter, and Robinson was later killed because of it. As said by Heck Tate in the novel, "There's a black boy dead for no reason, and the man responsible for its dead. Let the dead bury the dead this time"¦let the dead bury the dead" (Lee 276).

In addition, many times the punishment does not fit the crime. The defendant is a human being too, and it is only fair that the severity and duration of the punishment fits the severity of the crime. For example, shoplifting a candy bar should not turn into a lifetime sentence in jail. That is just common sense and logic. People might think that murder requires the death penalty, but it could have always been an accident. The murderer of Bob Ewell, Boo Radley, could have been praised by the citizens of Maycomb County for what he did. Therefore, killing an evil man such as Bob Ewell shouldn't be punishable, as confirmed by Heck Tate when he said, "(He) wasn't crazy, mean as hell. Low down skunk with enough liquor in him to make him brave enough to kill children. There's just some kind of men you have to shoot before you can say hidy to "˜em. Even then, it ain't worth the bullet it takes to shoot "˜em. Ewell "˜as one of them" (269).

Furthermore, following the law to a "T" and bringing forth all evidence might force innocent people to become involved in the case. The real right thing to do would be to let the person get on with their life in a peaceful manner. An example of this would be Boo Radley. Because Heck Tate did not expose the death of Bob Ewell as a murder, Boo did not have to go through the unwanted attention the townspeople would haven given him. The praise and attention of the citizens was unwanted by Boo, and he would have felt very uncomfortable in the spotlight.

I never heard tell that its against the law for a citizen to do his utmost to prevent a crime from being committed, which is exactly what he did, but"¦to my way of thinking Mr.Finch, taking one man who's done you and this town a great service an' draggin' him with his shy ways into the limelight "“ to me, that's a sin (276).

The law should be bent, and it should be acceptable. Maybe bending the law can someday actually become a part of the law. Until then, just remember: certain circumstances call for certain measures, many times the punishment does not fit the crime, and finally, following the law to a "T" might force innocent people to become involved in a case. The lives of many people would be much better off if strict legal action was not used and resolving things was left to the minimal amount of people involved. The law "“ like a ruler "“ is a tool for mankind. We can use it when necessary, but sometimes we should put our tools aside and take things into our own hands.