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.
The Just Mercy quotes below all refer to the symbol of To Kill a Mockingbird. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:).
The timeline below shows where the symbol To Kill a Mockingbird appears in Just Mercy. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1: Mockingbird Players
...hometown of Monroeville, Alabama. Monroeville was also the birthplace of Harper Lee, the author of To Kill a Mockingbird , the famous novel that features a black man who is falsely accused of rape... (full context)
Chapter 5: Of the Coming of John