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Rhetorical Analysis of Bryan Stevenson’s Book Just Mercy

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In the nonfiction book Just Mercy, author Bryan Stevenson employs his own personal experiences, tragedy, and alludes to a famous novel in order to inform his readers of the criminal and racial injustice in the United States justice system. The stories Stevenson shares are all an example of how the justice system is corrupted.

First, Stevenson utilizes ethos throughout his book in order to give a personal experience on the racial injustices in America. Stevenson is a civil rights lawyer and relays real life personal examples of the injustice he has witnessed. When Stevenson says, “I’ve represented abused and neglected children who were prosecuted as adults” it strengthens his credibility and informs the audience of the continuous problem of trying minors as adults. Youth that have been raised in abusive and neglectful homes have endured years of trauma. Stevenson shares stories of youth being convicted as adults that endure even more trauma in the prison system.

Stevenson uses pathos to tell stories that trigger reactions from his readers. The entire book makes the reader feel empathy and pain. Stevenson plays on the emotions of the reader to influence greater understanding of the racial injustice in the United States justice system. Stevenson introduces Walter, who was obviously wrongly convicted as well as stories of children sentenced to life to provoke his audience to feel sorrowful. Every case of every man, woman, child Stevenson writes about made the reader better understand the injustices of the criminal system.

The last strategy Stevenson utilizes is allusion. He often quotes To Kill A Mockingbird when describing the inevitable fates of the characters. When Stevenson says, “the black man falsely accused is found guilty. Shot seventeen times in the back,” he is able to bring connections from other literature that help the readers understand the criminal and racial injustice in the United States justice system. To Kill A Mockingbird tells a story of a black man falsely accused of raping a white girl. While it is a novel, it portrays the injustices and racial biases in the 1930s. Stevenson refers to this to show these injustices are still prevalent fifty years later.

Throughout his book, Bryan Stevenson weaves his own stories with court cases and statistics to open the readers’ eyes to racial injustices in the U.S justice system. The true stories of real people play on the emotions of the reader while literary references show injustices are still prevalent today. Just Mercy provides the reader an emotional experience and makes the reader question what they can do to promote equal justice for all. 

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Rhetorical Analysis Of Bryan Stevenson’s Book Just Mercy. (2021, Jun 09). GradesFixer. Retrieved January 19, 2022, from
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