Novels About Justice and Injustice

These novels have characters who are experiencing injustice or having justice meted out to them.

Novels About Justice & Injustice

And Then There Were None (Ten Little Indians) | Agatha Christie

Ten people receive invitations to an isolated island. When they arrive the butler informs them that the owner has been delayed, but they will be well cared for in his absence. After a nice dinner, a voice announces to the group that each of them has been responsible for a death. They proclaim their innocence and become concerned about their host’s intentions.

Read “And Then There Were None”

The Trial | Franz Kafka

Josef is arrested on his thirtieth birthday, accused of a crime that isn’t made clear to him. He goes to court and talks to his lawyer, trying to make sense of his situation.

“…that’s how this court does things, not only to try people who are innocent but even to try them without letting them know what’s going on.”

Read “The Trial”

Pigs in Heaven | Barbara Kingsolver

Taylor and her adopted daughter Turtle are on a trip at Hoover Dam when the child sees a man fall into the spillway. They get help and he is saved. The story is publicized, leading to an appearance on the Oprah show. A lawyer for the Cherokee Nation hears the story of her adoption, and works to remove Turtle from Taylor’s care so she will know about her culture.

The Count of Monte Cristo | Alexandre Dumas

After returning from a commercial sea voyage, Edmond Dantes is promoted to captain, and is soon to marry the beautiful Mercedes. He is framed for a crime by two men, jealous of his promotion and a rival for Mercedes. He is sent to the Chateau d’If where he suffers, plots his escape, and plans his revenge.

Read “The Count of Monte Cristo”

Obasan | Joy Kogawa

Naomi Nakane narrates her childhood during and after World War II in rural Alberta, Canada, as well as her present. She remembers the persecution of Japanese Canadians, and the abuse she suffered from a neighbor.

A Lesson Before Dying | Ernest J. Gaines

Jefferson is out riding with some friends when they stop to rob a liquor store; a shootout ensues, leaving everyone but Jefferson dead. He takes some money and flees. He is put on trial and found guilty of robbery and murder, and sentenced to die. His lawyer presented him as a man too stupid to be executed, saying it would be like sending a hog to the electric chair. This upsets his godmother, who raised him, so she visits Grant, a schoolteacher, to ask that he educate Jefferson in the little time he has left.

The Brothers Karamazov | Fedor Doestoevsky

The Karamazov brothers have no mother and an uninterested father. Dimitri is a sensualist, Ivan is a thinker, and Alyosha is spiritual. When their father, Fyodor, is murdered, Dimitri becomes the main suspect.

Read “The Brothers Karamazov”

Les Miserables | Victor Hugo

Jean Valjean, just out of prison, receives hospitality at the home of Bishop Myriel. He has a profound interaction with the bishop, which turns his life around. He becomes a good citizen and rises in the world. He also becomes aware of Fantine, a woman with a scandalous past who was fired from her job, and he wants to help her. Meanwhile, Valjean is being tirelessly pursued by Javert, an inspector devoted to duty.

“…the march from evil to good, from the unjust to the just, from night to day, from appetite to conscience, from rottenness to life, from hell to heaven, from nothingness to God.”

Read “Les Miserables”

Kidnapped | Robert Louis Stevenson

It’s Scotland in 1751 when David Balfour, sixteen, finds himself homeless when his poor father dies. He believes himself destitute until a letter reveals he is actually from a prosperous family. He travels to the home of his uncle, Ebenezer, who is hostile and scheming. He gets David to go with him to conduct business with a sea captain. After being lured onto the boat, David realizes he has been led into a trap.

Read “Kidnapped”

The Ox-Bow Incident | Walter Van Tilburg Clark

Art and Gil, cowboys, enter a small town after a winter of tending cattle. They go to the saloon to drink and play poker. There is talk of cattle rustlers in the area. A rider rushes in and says a local ranch hand, Kinkaid, has been shot during a cattle raid. A friend of Kincaid’s, Farnley, is ready to go after the robbers and murderers, and lynch them.

A Bell for Adano | John Hersey

It is July 1943 in Adano, Italy after the Allied invasion; the Americans take charge in the former fascist headquarters. Mussolini’s men have taken the seven-hundred-year-old town bell and melted it down. The people want the bell replaced, and they are short of food. The Americans are implementing various rules to maintain order and bring democracy to the people.

The Known World | Edward P. Jones

The narrative covers the life and death of Henry Townsend, a black slave owner, and the Virginia county he lived in. William Robbins is a powerful man and Henry’s former owner. He taught Henry how to dominate others and be successful. Moses is Henry’s slave overseer, good at his job but ignorant of everything else.


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