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Ideal of Social Justice

Social justice is held up as an ideal by many writers, though they may not see it as something that can be achieved in reality. They may in fact see it as something that is thwarted in their society, and their point of view is dependent on their personal experience, the history of their era, and literary and social influences that affect their work. Zora Neale Hurston and Ralph Ellison for instance, are both black writers responding to the lesser position occupied by blacks in American society in their time, but they have somewhat different views of social justice as of other aspects of the black experience. Ellison's response is that there is no social justice and that there will not be. His hero withdraws from society and lives an underground existence as an invisible man. The hero of this novel is a black man who is invisible in white society because he is black, in black society because he takes on various expected roles accepted by white society, and to himself because he has been subsuming his real character in these roles and has not allowed himself to exist as a real person with his own point of view. His invisibility is partially a choice and partially a result of modern urban life, which mitigates against any social justice for the black man. Hurston agrees with Ellison that blacks are not given their due in American society, but she delves into an inner strength to take responsibility for her own actions and to assert a form of social justice as both deserved and achievable.

Henry James sees society as exacting its own form of justice, which may or may not be an assertion of real moral principles. A society defines its own justice according to certain conceptions prevalent in that society, and James sees European society as decadent, while American society is more innocent. James was an American writer with a particular fascination for American characters placed in European settings, and James would contrast...

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Ideal of Social Justice. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 10:32, November 29, 2021, from