Throughout Just Mercy, Stevenson often references parallels between To Kill a Mockingbird, the famous 1960 book by Harper Lee, and the case of Walter McMillian. Lee’s novel features a black man who is falsely accused of rape and the white lawyer who unsuccessfully defends him against an angry white community. Monroe County, the setting of To Kill a Mockingbird, is also Walter’s hometown and the location of his trial. When Stevenson visits Monroe County, he is surprised at how proudly the town capitalizes on its connection with Lee: buildings are named after her, playhouses put on frequent productions of her story, and many people brag about their town’s famous association. Nonetheless, Stevenson is disgusted by the juxtaposition of the town’s pride with their failure to learn Lee’s messages about racial violence and presumptions of guilt. Reminders of Lee’s novel in Monroeville and parallels with Walter’s case come to represent hypocrisy, willful ignorance, and the persistence of racial violence over time.
To Kill a Mockingbird Quotes in Just Mercy
Sentimentality about Lee’s story grew even as the harder truths of the book took no roots.