Time to Kill



Racism and Justice collide when the life of a ten-year-old black girl, Tonya Hailey, is shattered by two drunken and remorseless young white men , as they brutally beat and rape her. In John Grisham’s novel rape, racism, and justice all prevail throughout the story A Time to Kill. Carl Lee Hailey, the father of the ten-year-old child takes justice into his own hands by murdering his daughters assailants. As his young defense attorney struggles with the law to save his clients life, racism spreads through the streets of Canton.

“She watched as he walked around the tree on her right side, and she stared at him as he stared between her legs. When he lowered his pants she turned to the left and closed her eyes. He was hurting her again.” The two men that had raped the black child, Tonya Hailey, had no respect for the black folks. When they selected their victim they did not care if she was a child, but yet the fact that she was black gave them more reason to take away her rights as a human. This is evident throughout the rape when one of the assailants, Cobb explained;

“...that she was not dead because niggers generally could

not be killed by kicking and beating and raping. It took

much more, something like a knife or a rope to dispose

of a nigger.” (pg.2)



After the two intoxicated and remorseless men were done with her, the mostly white town found out about this most inhuman crime. They reacted with shock and horror.

“We picked them up last night for rape.”

“Who’d they rape?”

“That nigger Hailey-- his daughter.”

“You’re kidding!?” (pg.23)



The people of the town could not believe that two of their white people could rape a young child. Not only the fact that she was black, but a ten-year-old child.

Later on chaos erupted in the town of Mississippi after the father of the raped girl, Carl Lee Hailey took justice into his own outraged hands and murdered her two assailants. Racial tension in the town was already apparent, and excelled to more violent action against the black community after the murders. The people of the town that were white took several actions in trying to interfere with justice. Their first mission was to try and eliminate Carl Lee Hailey’s attorney, Jake Brigance. The reason for their hatred towards him was because he was defending a black man in a racial community. As the trial grew deeper, a number of white towns people joined a group who despised blacks , known as the Kl Klux Klan (KKK). Joining together like this, gave them more power to continue their fight against the blacks and the people involved in the case. For ten days, with burning crosses and the crack of sniper fire spreading through the streets of Clanton, the nation sat spellboun!

d as a young defense attorney, Jake Brigance struggles to save his clients life -- and then his own.

“Hello,” answered Prattle.

“Who’s this?” asked the voice.

“Deputy Joe Pintle. Who’s this?”

“Where’s the sheriff?”

“Asleep, I reckon.”

“Okay listen, and listen real good because this is important and I Ain’t calling’ again. You know that Hailey nigger?”

“Yeah.”

“You know his lawyer, Brigance?”

“Yeah.”

“Then listen. Sometime between now and three A.M., they’re gonna blow up his house.” (pg.272)



As the trial progresses Jake found the only way to save his clients life would be a plead for insanity. His argument would be that Carl Lee Hailey was not in the right frame of mind, he was so hurt and outraged by the rape of his daughter he felt it was the only way to end her pain and his anger. To prove this, Jake’s main witness was a psychiatrist who had the highest credentials in the state of Mississippi. Until the prosecutor, Mr. Buckley, discredited the psychiatrist.

“Dr. Bass, have you ever been convicted of a felony?”

“Of course not!” Bass answered loudly, desperately.

“Are you certain?” Buckley thundered.

“Of course I’m certain,” Bass protested.

“You’re certain?” Buckley asked.

“Yes,” Bass answered through clenched teeth.

“You’re telling this jury that on October 17, 1956, in Dallas, Texas, you were not convicted of a felony under the name of Tyler Bass.

No answer.

“You’re telling this jury that on October 17, 1956 you were not convicted of statutory