Justice or Vengeance?
People do lots of fucked up things to each other. Sometimes even violent and illegal things, hence our system of justice. And justice is a complicated, complex subject, especially when the crimes being judged seem justifiable. The classic, cliched example is the man stealing food to feed his starving family. Is that better or worse than theft for fun or profit, or does motive make no difference? It’s these questions that have engaged generations of lawyers, judges, politicians, cops, philosophers, and pretty much everyone else. And it is this question of justification that we will be grappling with for this assignment, using two works of fiction as our examples. And here they are:
Trifles by Susan Glaspell (play)
Mother Savage by Guy de Maupassant (short story)
(Both are available online for free. Find, print, read, and bring them to class every day during this section of class)
Thesis Question: Which crime/act of violence is more justifiable to you: the one committed by Ms. Wright, or the one committed by Mother Savage?
This assignment uses standard academic format: an introduction that ends with a thesis, body paragraphs that each defend, explain, explore, or expand that thesis, and a conclusion that takes the conversation forward.
Avoid book reports! You are writing this paper to someone who has read both works. I do not need plot summary. Reference the stories to strengthen and explain your arguments, but use only what you need. Again, I know the events of both works so you don’t need to repeat them just to tell me what happened.
Each body paragraph should have a main idea that discusses YOUR THESIS, which is essentially YOUR OPINION. At this level, it’s a wise move to start each paragraph with the main idea of that paragraph (called a topic sentence). You don’t have to, but it will keep you focused. Regardless of where you put it in the paragraph, each one should have one sentence that is directly defending, explaining, exploring, or expanding YOUR THESIS.
Once more, this is a paper about YOUR IDEAS. Organize it that way. Try to discuss both works in each paragraph. This is a comparison/contrast paper, and you can’t compare only one thing. You’re telling me why you think one crime is more justified than the other. Stick with that throughout the paper.
Justice or Vengeance?