Rhetorical Analysis Of Just Mercy

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Bryan Stevenson uses the art of rhetoric in Just Mercy to allow readers to understand how America’s history of racial tension has influenced mass incarceration through the criminal justice system. Stevenson asserts throughout the book how the criminal justice system is corrupted through vast instances such as Joe Sullivan and Walter McMillian. The criminal justice scene immorally targets those who suffer from mental illnesses, people of color, and the poor. Through Stevenson’s rhetoric, readers come to understand the parallel worlds between himself and those convicted.
Stevenson closely examines the role of racism in the criminal justice system showing how America’s past still haunts the present. Through his experiences as a lawyer, he recognizes …show more content…

Once a young innocent boy, Joe Sullivan, a thirteen year old boy who suffered from mental disabilities from ignorance and abuse from father, became obligated by two older boys to participate in the robbery of an elderly homeowner. The day of the burglary, the homeowner was also mercilessly sexually assaulted. Whilst Sullivan admitted to being the boy’s accomplice, he adamantly denied the sexual assault. Though denying the charges and lack of evidence, Joe Sullivan was convicted as an adult and sentenced to life without parole. Sullivan’s forsaken teenage years behind bars lead him to become an underdeveloped man stuck in the past. When Stevenson meets Sullivan in his cramped office, he notices, “...[Sullivan] was extremely cheerful. [Stevenson] couldn’t shake the feeling that [he] was talking to a young child” (Stevenson 217). Stevenson uses pathos by explaining that he felt like he was talking to a young boy. This quote implements readers to pity Sullivan because he was locked in bars at such a young age that he never received that chance to mature and grow. Whilst Stevenson delves into Joe Sullivan, he goes on to find the connection between himself and Sullivan. When Bryan was sixteen years old, his grandfather had been murdered. No one could make sense of his murder which left him with numerous unanswered questions. As the years went by, Stevenson came to realize, “...that these shocking and senseless crimes couldn’t be evaluated honestly without understanding the lives these children had been forced to endure” (221). This connection ties with ethos because it shows how he has experience with a similar situation. He explains how his grandfather was murdered by an eighteen year old and didn’t understand why a teenager would kill him. Sullivans case reminded him of the unanswered questions he had been left with which has now been justified through his

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