Compare and Contrast James How and Walter How in Galsworthy’s "Justice"

In John Galsworthy’s Justice, James How and Walter How, the owners of a solicitors firm are father and son. Both are educated, polished and reasonable persons. But while the father is more conservative in his attitude to life, the son is rather liberal in his views on the problems of life. Both agree that forgery by Falder is a serious crime. But the son wishes to ignore it as the first crime by him and to give him a second chance. The father, on the other hand, thinks that allowing this crime to go unpunished will itself be a crime.

James How is a grand Victorian. His prudery may sound false, but his concern for honesty and sanctity of institutions is very much genuine. He hates dishonesty and immorality. It is difficult for him to forgive Falder, for he has not only swindled his employer but has proved himself a hardened criminal by ensuring that everybody suspects Davis. He appears to be custodian of the edifice of law, and his devotion to and respect for it makes him very much conservative in his attitude to any offence. Whether it is the first offence or the last, forgery is a crime which cannot go without punishment. So he insists on letting law take its own course and refuses to listen to his son’s and Cokeson’s plea for mercy. This attitude of his represents the attitude of society itself, and it appears to be real not in the system that causes all the suffering.

But James How is not really a heartless man in spite of all his principles and strict adherence to social values when Falder is sentenced he is not quite happy. When as Falder comes out of prison only to live as an outcast, he is generous enough to agree to take him back and give him another chance. Even when the policeman comes to inquire about Falder, the old man refuses to abide by law and tries to protect him.

Walter How is a modern man and a foil to his father. He does not have much faith in the system he serves. When Falder is found guilty of forgery he is all for forgiving him. He even scours his father and insists that human values are more previous than callousness of a commercial society. When Falder is taken back he seems to be very happy and when Falder is dead he vainly tries to revive him and then, completely defeated only looks on, sharing the grief of Ruth. He is no longer skeptical of the good thing in the world; even in the death of Falder and the grief of Ruth he sees a meaning.