By Rita Joe

Justice Seems to have many faces,
It does not want to play if my skin is not the right hue,
or correct the wrong we long for,
Action hanging off-balance

Justice is like an open field
We observe, but are afraid to approach
We have been burned before
Hence the broken stride
And the lingering doubt
We often hide

Justice may want to play
if we have an open smile
And offer the hand of communication
To make it worthwhile

Justice has to make me see
Hear, feel.
Then i will know the truth is like a toy
To be enjoyed or broken.

Summary of Justice

  • Popularity of “Justice”: Justice is written by Rita Joe, a respected poet and songwriter. It is a remarkable poetic piece. The poem mocks the way justice is accomplished in the world. She brilliantly highlights the multiple faces of justice and the way it is served to people. The sarcastic tone of the poem and depiction of reality with a clever touch of humor make this poem readable for the audience.
  • “Justice” A comment on the implementation of Justice: The poem focuses on the crippling system of justice present in the world. It begins with a sarcastic note about the different approaches for people. She further says that it does not appear pretty if our skin does not meet its criteria to support this argument. She further compares justice to an open field that we all observe but hesitate to approach. Implying that we all believe in the existence of justice, but at the same time, we become reluctant to follow its path. The choice of words suggests that the speaker might have endured pain while seeking justice. That awful experience has made her question the credibility of justice. As the poem continues, she argues that justice may approach you if you change your stance toward it. It may come to us if we welcome it with a fake smile. The speaker ends this beautiful piece with a thought-provoking note where she compares truth with a toy one can easily play with it.
  • Major Themes in “Justice”: False standards of justice and man versus world are the major themes of the poem. This meaningful poem sheds light on the justice that surrounds us. At times, it may not appear on our side, but it still exists. Sometimes it makes us question its practical approach, while another time, it favors us. We should be ready for everything in life that justice leads us to. The speaker tries to explain how people use justice as a sport. It appears to her as a toy that can be broken or destroyed quite easily.

Analysis of Literary Devices Used in Justice

Literary devices are techniques that writers use to convey their ideas, feelings, and message to the readers. Rita Joe used various literary devices to enhance the intended impacts of his poem. Some of the major literary devices have been analyzed below.

  1. Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line. For example, the sound of /ee/ in “We have been burned before” and the sound of /o/ in “And offer the hand of communication.”
  2. Alliteration: Alliteration means the use of successive consonant sounds in the initials of the successive words. For example, /b/ in “We have been burned before”.
  3. Consonance: Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line. For example, the sound of /n/ in “And offer the hand of communication” and the sound of /t/ in “It does not want to play if my skin is not the right hue.”
  4. Enjambment: It is defined as a thought in verse that does not come to an end at a line break. Instead, it rolls over to the next line. For example,

“Justice has to make me see
Hear, feel.Then i will know the truth is like a toy
To be enjoyed or broken.”

  1. Imagery: Imagery is used to make readers perceive things involving their five senses. For example, “Then i will know the truth is like a toy”, “To be enjoyed or broken” and “Justice is like an open field.
  2. Irony: Irony is a figure of speech in which words are used in such a way that their intended meaning is different from the actual meaning of the words. The poet uses this device in the last line of the poem, where she compares truth with a toy, such as,

“Then i will know the truth is like a toy
To be enjoyed or broken.”

  1. Symbolism: Symbolism means using symbols to signify ideas and qualities, giving them symbolic meanings that are different from the literal meanings. Here “off-balance” stands for the doubtful position of justice in the world.
  2. Simile: It is a device used to compare something with something else to make the meanings clear to the readers. For example, “Justice is like an open field” and “Then i will know the truth is like a toy.”

Analysis of Poetic Devices Used in “Justice”

Poetic devices allow the writers to create more meanings in their seemingly simple poems. The analysis of the devices sued in the poem has been given below.

  1. Free Verse: Free verse is a type of poetry that does not contain patterns of rhyme or meter. This is a free-verse poem with no strict rhyme or meter.
  2. Quatrain: A quatrain is a four-lined stanza borrowed from Persian poetry. Here first, third and fourth stanzas are quatrains.
  3. Stanza: A stanza is a poetic form of some lines. There are four stanzas in this poem, each comprising different lines.

Quotes to be Used

These lines are useful to use in a speech while talking about the wrong standards of justice that prevailed in the world.

“Justice has to make me see
Hear, feel.
Then i will know the truth is like a toy
To be enjoyed or broken.”