Dead Man Walking Book Review

Dead Man Walking Book Review

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Dead Man Walking


Dead Man Walking, a story by Sister Helen Prejean, is a superb book, presenting most of the aspects regarding capital punishment. According to my opinion the unique thing about this book, is its ability to make people reflect upon and even question their earlier thoughts concerning the death penalty. Many different points of view are presents, but the book doesn’t pick sides. Dead Man Walking manages to remain objective even when we approach the painful end.
The book is based on Sister Helen Prejean’s experiences with inmates on death row. Sister Helen receives a letter from prisoner Matthew Poncelet. Due to a horrible murder to which he claims only to have been an observer, he is now on death row, waiting for his execution. He requests her to come visiting him. In the next few days we follow Sister Helens conversations with Matthew, his family and the families of the two teenagers brutally raped and killed. In spite of the fact that Helen meets a lot of anger and sorrow for her being so involved with Matthew she keeps on fighting for his life. But the appeal gets rejected and the execution gets closer
There is one statement in the book that I think summarizes the theme. A lawyer observes: “it is easy to kill a monster, but hard killing a human being.”
I think that one of the reasons Sister Helen Prejean wrote this book is to bring more knowledge about the complex death penalty to the public. While the rest of the Western world has abolished this, in my opinion, old-fashioned punishment has become an asset to US politicians in order to gain trust from the American voters.
Sister Helen Prejean and the condemned Poncelet are defiantly the main characters of this book. Even though few people can identify themselves with Poncelet, his grief and despair occurs before and during the injection and reminds us that less than few are totally in lack of emotions. Sister Helen is a Nun who spends much of her time doing charity in her poor neighborhood. She is having a hard time not letting her to Poncelet’s actions dominate her spiritual relationship, but manages to remember the Christian message: “Every man is worth more than his worst actions.

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” The conversations between Helen and Matthew are, according to my opinion, the most powerful in the book. They are intense and moving.
After reading this I have a different view of the death penalty, this book was very touching and moved me. I think that it was well written too. I felt the powerful yet painful message. I think it also showed the power of religious vocation, and moral clarity. I think Dead Man Walking was a profound argument against capital punishment.
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