Dead Man Walking Analysis

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The debate over whether capital punishment is just or unjust has become a difficult topic to discuss. The United States has one of the most controversial issues regarding capital punishment. The system is unjust and cruel, especially for those who cannot afford proper representation. Sister Helen Prejean’s book, Dead Man Walking, discusses her personal views on the death penalty and advocates for its abolition. She argues that it should be illegal because it is morally wrong. Prejean served as a spiritual advisor to two death row inmates, Patrick Sonnier and Robert Lee Willie. Her experiences with them helped her develop her own views on capital punishment. Prejean believed that a death sentence should not be the only answer for their crimes. She successfully defended her views on capital punishment and fought for what she believed in by trying to grant stays of execution or a court appeal for these inmates. In the end, Prejean’s book shows that capital punishment affects more people and their lives than one would perceive. Although it might be hard to say that a convicted murderer should be released, a life sentence is not necessarily a waste of taxpayers’ dollars. Prejean’s goal was to help Sonnier realize that he was not an animal or worse. She wanted him to understand that he was worth more than his worst act.

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The question of whether capital punishment is morally acceptable has become increasingly challenging, remaining a highly controversial topic in society. The unjust and inhumane nature of capital punishment, particularly for those without adequate legal representation, highlights the need to eliminate it. Wealthy individuals often avoid the death penalty by hiring skilled and well-paid lawyers, revealing the unfairness of the system. Both supporting and opposing arguments regarding capital punishment are compelling and have the ability to change one’s perspective through strong reasoning. Sister Helen Prejean’s book, Dead Man Walking (DMW), delves into her personal views on capital punishment while advocating for its abolition.

Prejean demonstrates her courage and bravery as she defends her stance on capital punishment, a sensitive topic. She served as a spiritual advisor and friend to two death row inmates, Patrick Sonnier and Robert Lee Willie. Through these relationships, she developed her own perspective on the death penalty. Prejean firmly believed that executing another human being is morally unjust, expressing her viewpoint openly with statements like, “maybe violence is natural to him.” (11) While the United States government permits capital punishment for crimes that cannot be adequately punished by other means, Prejean argues that it should not be the sole solution, despite acknowledging the dangerous nature of individuals like Sonnier and Willie and the absence of any excuse for their actions.

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Prejean effectively served as a spiritual advisor in addressing the issue of capital punishment, particularly when compared to others. The chosen method of execution, lethal injection, stirs up emotions previously unexplored by some individuals. Prejean dedicated herself to providing comfort and support to the two inmates during their moments of grief and desperation. The primary motivation behind her visits stemmed from the overwhelming weight of their isolation and abandonment, which deeply affected her. She persistently fought for stays of execution and court appeals for these prisoners, advocating for her deeply held beliefs. Ultimately, she succeeded in bringing about positive change in Sonnier, helping him recognize the redemptive power of truth. Despite his initial resistance and prejudiced perspectives, he eventually let his guard down and acknowledged his actions. DMW effectively illustrates that the consequences of capital punishment extend beyond what one may initially perceive, impacting numerous lives.

At the conclusion of the story, Sonnier no longer posed a threat to others and significantly transformed as an individual. Although it may be a stretch to suggest releasing a convicted murderer, it is reasonable to argue that a lifelong imprisonment is not simply squandering tax funds. Prejean expressed, “I am striving to emulate Jesus’s teachings that deem every individual worth more than their worst actions.” This sentiment resonates with her as she aimed to show Sonnier that he was not subhuman or worse.

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Dead Man Walking Analysis. (2016, May 20). Retrieved from

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