Joe Cinque - Law

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Helen Garner’s novel, Joe Cinque’s Consolation, questions aspects of the law and justice through her representation of characters in the novel. Her quest narrative form assists in the representation and creation of certain characters in the novel and she successfully twists the gender roles of these positions. Garner questions whether retribution can be achieved through the court system, and whether criminals should be punished or rehabilitated. The Cinque’s exclusion from the trial detracts from the connotations of justice and Garner attempt to console the Cinque’s through this narrative.

The Cinque’s yearn for retribution towards Anu Singh, yet the Garner questions the ability of the courts to provide justice. Through the structure of the quest narrative, Garner portrays the Cinque family as grief-stricken. This stark contrast between the Singh family is assisted through interracial stereotypes and familial positions. Maria Cinque stresses her willingness for capital punishment. The blunt, emotional tone in “The sentence should be Hang on that tree over there” Emphasises her need for vengeance. Her strong family connection is emphasised through her emotional tone. It also highlights the restrictions placed upon the judicial system. A life sentence is only fourteen years, and this doesn’t appear to be able to console the family who has lost a son. Maria Cinque later states, “That’s not possible, but its fair”. Through this statement, Maria suggests the difficulty in establishing fairness and questions the role of justice. This idea is emphasised through the repetition of the motif “Joe Cinque is dead”. The blunt, directness of this comment penetrates into the reader and portrays the inconsolable reality of murder, and the powerlessness of the legal system to provide “fairness” or retribution.

The justice system is divided between providing a punishment or a rehabilitation sentence. Varied opinions are voiced throughout the novel, yet the court system...
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