DEAD MAN WALKING
Dead Man Walking is a great book that deals with one of our nations most controversial issues: capital punishment. The books narrator, Sister Helen Prejean, discusses her personal views on capital punishment. She was a spiritual advisor and friend to two death row inmates; Elmo Patrick Sonnier and Robert Lee Willie. From her experiences, she developed views on the death penalty. She believed it was morally wrong and spoke openly about it. Sister Helen successfully defends her views on capital punishment while stating that capital punishment should be illegal. Her experiences have taught her that although these criminals were dangerous and deadly, and that their crimes were inexcusable, a death sentence should not be the answer.
I believe Sister Helen’s success in dealing with the issue of capital punishment falls on the two cases for which she was a spiritual advisor. In these cases, Sister Helen always tried her best to grant stays of execution or a court appeal. She fought for what she believed in and tried her best to abolish the death penalty. Sister in no way condemned what these killers had done, but tried her best to comfort them in their time of loneliness, sorrow, and need.
Sister Helen’s first case, Patrick Sonnier, better influenced my opinion on capital punishment. Her strategies in dealing with a convicted killer were brave and courageous. She was always willing to meet with Patrick and to talk about anything he liked. She helped him to realize his mistake, but more importantly, helped him to become a better person. She was always reminding Pat that God had the power of forgiveness, and that if he were truly sorry, God would forgive him. Sister Helen’s best arguments were the details she spoke about prior to Sonnier’s death. When Sister Helen spoke about Pat’s legal defense, it made a big impact on me as a reader. She persuaded me to look at things from two angles, instead of just one. As a reader, I was upset with the comparison between Pat’s sentence and his brother’s sentence. How could two brothers who conspired in the murder together receive two different sentences: Pat receiving a death sentence, while Pat’s brother Eddie receiving a lesser charge in a ...
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...sing something. Sister was missing the dreadful feeling of a loved one brutally murdered at the hands of a killer. Who is to say that people can not change their minds about capital punishment? As of now, I am opposed to the death penalty. If someone killed a person I loved or cared about deeply, and they faced a death sentence, I would really have to consider my views again. This just shows that you should never be truly positive on your views about capital punishment until you have had the opportunity of experiencing a loss by the hands of a killer.
I believe Sister Helen was extremely successful in describing her oppositions towards capital punishment. Her experiences as a spiritual advisor to two death row inmates gave her knowledge about capital punishment that was previously just foundation in her beliefs. Her methods of dealing with the arguments of capital punishment were honest and fair. She presented herself in a way that made you listen to everything she had to say about the death penalty. Her evidence and facts were thoroughly supported throughout the book. She also allowed the reader to decide on his or her own view of capital punishment.
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