BOOK REVIEW OF
THE LAST JUROR
?The Ford County Times ?editor waking to the civil rights movement ran a obituary of a Negro which angered the majority population, the whites. Wilson Caudle pleased with himself as an integrationist and never cared about the profits. Soon the paper went bankrupt. Joyner William Traynor, twenty three years old young man, who studied journalism and joined newly ?The Ford County Times? bought it with the help of his grandmother...
He made drastic changes in the paper by publishing about book clubs, bible study groups, crime, and obits and about every one of the county. The ford county was a calm place and news was light and breezy. The Padgett?s lived on an island in the county, rich and notorious for car stealing, gambling drugtraffiking, whoring and gunning. The Padgitts were very smart and never caught hold by the law. Rhoda Kessellaw, a young beautiful widow with two small children was raped before her children and murdered. Before dying, Rhoda named her rapist as ?Danny padgitt. Danny padgitt was arrested before fleeing to the safety of his island. William covered the murder case along with colorful news of the county. The sales of the weekly at once trebled. In the town across rail road tracks where colored people lived, Calia and Easu, the colored couple with eight children were prominent citizens. All the seven children of Easu and Cilia were Ph.d docrors except the last son Sam who was hiding from law. William covered about the family in his weekly. Easu and callia were the first blacks to join the voter?s rolls and their last child Sam was the first black to join a white school.
Miss Callia was a shrewd woman,She reads the weekly thoroughly and finds the mistakes.William was very much impressed by Miss Callia and they became good friends. Twelve jurors were selected among one hundred prominent citizens and the last juror < 12th> was Miss Callia . She was the first black to serve on a trial. Because of the news and publicity given in ?The Ford County Times? Danny was not granted bail. Danny got an alibi that he was actually with his girl friend Lydia at the time of murder. As three of the jurors opposed the death sentence Danny was given life imprisonment. The people of Clanton were raged for not awarding death penalty to Danny Padgitt. William was horrified when he learnt that death penalty in Mississippi means only ten years jail with bright chances of coming out even before on parole.
From time to time ?The Ford County Times? criticized the special privileges given to Danny. After 8 years when Danny tried secretly to come out of jail on parole William strongly opposed and succeeded in stopping the release of Danny, but could not stop his release after one year. Within fifteen days of Danny?s release two jurors Fargarson and Mo Teale, who opposed the death sentence were killed. Third juror Maxine Root is also attacked with a bomb but she survived. Why the Padgitts killing the jurors who opposed the death sentence has become a mystery. Meanwhile William helped Sam, the last son of Miss Calia to come back home.
All the ruffin children started taking care of their mother from the possible attack of Padgitts.Danny was again arrested on suspicion of the murders and brought before court. In the court Danny was murdered by. Hank Hooten, the lawyer, who loved Rhoda and was diagnosed as schizophrenic, confined to mental asylum for five years and released after treatment. He is behind the murders of fargarson and moteale who opposed the death sentence of Danny.William sold? The Ford County Times ? weekly after managing the paper for nearly ten years.
As he wanted to marry and settle down,Miss Callia suffered heart attack and died amid her children and grand children.
This novel is a tribute of john Gresham to a brave and shrewd black lady, even though the novel is stretched more than necessary, still fascinating and satisfying.
This novel deals successfully with the disparitiesbetween whites and colored people that existed in American society in seventies.
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