A Vision of American Law: Judging Law, Literature, and the by Barry R. Schaller

By Barry R. Schaller

Throughout heritage, works of literature have helped to form public dialogue of social, felony, and political concerns. during this booklet, Barry R. Schaller attracts on examples from American literature in proposing an research of the criminal features of numerous significant difficulties dealing with our society. After making a choice on the main felony relationships in society, the e-book specializes in difficulties of violence, lack of authority, reduced religion within the American dream of development, and the demanding situations posed by means of mammoth social and technological swap. the writer bargains a collection of criteria to function a advisor to potent judicial choice making and to aid the general public in comparing the stability of these decisions.

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Extra resources for A Vision of American Law: Judging Law, Literature, and the Stories We Tell

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THE PIONEERS: NATURAL MAN James Fenimore Cooper’s nineteenth-century novel, The Pioneers,41 focuses on the conflict between an individual who embodies the mythologized American ethic of exploring individualism based on natural rights and the developing civilized society which employs the rule of law as its instrument. Cooper’s heart, in some sense, may have been with his exploring protagonist, Leatherstocking. 42 The novel takes place in 1793 in Templeton, a settlement in upstate New York. Leatherstocking is a seventy-year-old, hardy, simple, upright woodsman living on the outskirts of civilization as represented by the new white settlement.

The extent to which the codes affect members outside the group varies according to the relative power of the respective groups. Illustrative of these private codes are codes of honor adhered to by virtually every social class. In their extreme form, codes of honor call for revenge or retribution by violence in defense of self-respect and reputation. An extension of this code—the code duello—requires action in the event of an insult or injury for which there is no apology. 3 The code of honor often converged with the legal code or codes of higher morality.

Leatherstocking clearly was given some latitude in expressing his civil disobedience. Although consequences resulted initially, they were moderate and did not prevent Leatherstocking from departing for uncivilized territory where individual autonomy could still be exercised without societal restraint. The brand of individualism presented in The Pioneers leaves little room for negotiating differences or for compromise solutions. A head-to-head confrontation occurs in which the winner takes all. This type of clash exists today in confrontations over rights.

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