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Analyzing Nonfiction Literature as a Primary Source:
Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
Answer these questions about Just Mercy with an eye to both an understanding of the text and its message(s)
about (in)justice, community, humanity, the common good, and critical evaluation of our times in light of the past.
Your answers on the two parts here do not have to be extraordinarily lengthy; just complete enough to
demonstrate you have read and understood the text and its relevance for our contemporary society.
This should be 2-3 pages tops.
5) Stevenson argues “the opposite of poverty is not wealth; the opposite of poverty is justice” (18). What does he mean?
What examples in the book inform Stevenson’s position on poverty and its relationship to justice? What is his conclusion
about justice and mercy and how they must work together? What does he say makes mercy just and powerful?
6) Many U.S. citizens today will find this book painful to read. What kind(s) of emotion(s) did the book bring up in you? Which
of Stevenson’s examples and stories resonate with you? Which stories surprised and shocked you? Is the book an eyeopener for you, or a validation of what you already knew? Be able to articulate the specifics of one or two episodes that
resonated and surprised you and why (or how?) they did so.
7) The various cases and characters in Stevenson’s narrative raise some uncomfortable questions about the difference
between the justice system in theory and the system in practice. His cases suggest that our country’s history of segregation,
racially-prejudiced policies, and economic disparity still have grave effects in the present, despite the Civil Rights movement
and the work of people like Martin Luther King, Jr. and others. Has there been improvement in solving systemic inequities
and issues of race, power, and poverty since he wrote this book, so that the ideal of equality of justice becomes more real?
Below are some recent (optional) articles (primary sources) which might help you think about this.

Black woman gets 18 months prison, white woman gets probation for same crime

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