Secrets and personal information must be kept private in order to hide any appearance of abnormality. This negotiation on truth can lead to unjust results. The novel, ‘Jasper Jones’, by Craig Silvey, is set in the small town of Corrigan during the 1960s. Being a small town, citizens are very close to each other therefore have the tendency to stock up on gossip and secrets. However, when the truth is let out, it doesn’t always succeed in serving justice. The injustice of the truth being disclosed from the larger community is forced upon the protagonists of ‘Jasper Jones’ in order to avoid prejudice, protection from other’s doubt and to find escape from a restless life. Manipulation of the truth and no proper castigation given to those in power is the ultimate injustice in ‘Jasper Jones’.
Silvey outlines that individuals must hide the moral truth in order to avoid being victimized by prejudice. One’s fear of racial discrimination can cause one to conceal the truth. As Jasper lives in a society of judgement that “stick to what they know” and “what they’ve bin told”, he is forced to give up his conscience of right and wrong. The truth about Laura’s death is well known to Jasper and Charlie but decide to conceal it from others because Jasper isn’t “protected” as “the town thinks of him as an animal” and continuously fail to “understand” him. Since Laura’s disappearance is mysterious, Charlie and Jasper are certain that the sarge and the rest of the town will use it as an “excuse” to get Jasper “locked up”. Due to such prejudice, Charlie decides to protect Jasper from further persecution and vow to keep the peace in the community. Although the truth is known to provide justice to the Wishart family, Jasper must find a way to find Laura’s killer and protect himself from abuse. Therefore, the truth is manipulated and the idea of justice has been ignored due to the essentiality of survival. Although one of the factors for hiding the truth was to protect Jasper, information can also be withheld to keep the peace in the community and not disrupt status quo.
Dishonesty starts when an individual cannot reconcile a difficult experience. Lying comes from fear and the fear of stirring commotion amongst a community can cause for justice to not prevail. Eliza discloses the truth from Charlie and the rest of the community in order to keep the “peace” and avoid further questioning from the sarge and her family. However, Eliza cannot stand the fact that her father will get away with impregnating her sister and in order to cope with the guilt burdening Eliza, she burns down the house with her “monstrous” father inside. She looks at her burning home “dispassionately as though it was someone else’s”. The fire caused harm upon Pete Wishart whose health deteriorated from the fire. This event gave Chalie, Jasper and Eliza a sense of relief and justice. Charlie realizes that “Eliza might be less concerned with what’s right… about uncovering the truth”. Although Eliza tells her “brittle mother” the grim truth about Laura, the truth does not prevail because both hearts are fragile and “weak”, they are powerless to take any legal action. Although some sort of punishment has been given to the shire president, “the secret has been sealed with the Wisharts” who struggle to survive with the guilt of knowing no legal action has been taken. Such secreted truths under a household roof can cause distant and fragile relationships.
Silvey elicits that built up secrets and lies lead to guilt which forms agitated and dishonest relationships with loved ones. Trust is fragile. Secrets and lies threaten trust and can damage individuals and relationships. This is evident when, Ruth sought escape from her “miserable” life in her affair with the sarge. She did not maintain a “commitment… of loyalty” to Charlie or Wesley and hence felt “ashamed” of her actions. Since she knew that this was morally “wrong”, she did not feel comfortable to spend a truthful bond with Charlie or Wesley. “She went back to being a spoiled girl” amidst the comfort of her family in the city. This immorality forced her to have a dishonest relationship with Charlie and a tainted life in the city. The truth has somewhat triumphed in this situation amongst the Bucktin ménage as Wesley and Charlie withdraw their amity with Ruth and she lives in a life with no affection. Thus, Silvey illustrates the notion to readers that those who resort to unethical means will always be given some sort of consequential treatment but not completely what they deserve.
Ultimately, Silvey suggests that individuals withheld secrets to protect themselves and loved ones but when they are let out, justice is not always established. The truth may struggle to be let out due to the racist society that the protagonists of ‘Jasper Jones’ are situated in. In order to protect themselves and avoid suspicion from the wider community, the main characters must discover “the gift of lies”. Silvey elicits that escapism is an important tool used by humans to cope with sadness. Furthermore, human nature leads to agitation when guilt is built up, this behavior can form untrustworthy relationships. When truth is relating to a society, all aspects may not receive neutrality due to contradicting opinions. The truth somewhat triumphs in situations of extreme immoralities such as the abuse of Laura and Ruth’s affair, however, the full form of justice including legal action is never achieved which is the ultimate injustice.