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Dead Man Walking Meaning The United States has one of the few overspent, and majority of citizens who condone and continue capital punishment. In the book Dead Man Walking, by Sister Helen Prepare, the topic of capital punishment is discussed through an eye-witness account of her experience befriending a death row inmate.
It takes place in New Orleans and Baton Rouge, Louisiana from 1982-1991. Sister Helen is asked if she would be willing to correspond with a death row inmate. When she agrees, she is assigned to Elm Patrick Sonnies, a man convicted of raping and murdering a young woman and her boyfriend.
This kook is written in a first-person, subjective narration from Preseason’s perspective revolving Mr.. Sinner’s and Sister Helene interactions, and throughout the trial involving Mr.
. Sonnies death sentence. There are many effective devices used in this book that strongly show her opinions towards capital punishment, and convincing the audience that capital punishment is morally wrong and fundamentally flawed. Sister Helen does this by using with the use of pathos.
She utilizes the use of pathos predominately by her compassionate tone of voice, the importance of personal accessibility, and the moral cost of executions. This is her most effective argument showing why the death penalty is wrong. The first effective argument opposing the death penalty that Sister Helen uses is the use of pathos. She uses pathos by her compassionate tone of voice, the importance of personal responsibility, and the moral cost of executions. Her tone of voice can be interpreted by multiple passages.
There is a clear passage showing her compassion towards Mr.. Sonnies. He looks up at me. “Sister Helen, I am going to die. ” My soul rushes towards him.
I am standing tit my hands against the mesh screen, as close as I can get to him. I pray and ask God to comfort him, cushion him, wrap him round, give him courage to face death, to step across the river, to die with love. The words are pouring from me. (88) This shows the compassion she has towards Mr.. Sonnies and the situation involving his death.
She genuinely wants him to feel comfortable, loved, and peaceful in his last moments on Earth. Saying that her soul rushes towards him, meaning that she feels an internal force to comfort him, that she feels a compassion to help this man, not just an obligation. This tone of voice, showing compassion, using pathos by showing the audience the emotion involved in death row inmates and the people involved in their lives. This shows how Mr.. Sonnies is human, and others are still capable of having compassion for him.
That regardless of his actions, he has people who care about him and who are we to in the name of ‘Justice’ end these relationships and his life? This causes the reader to see the inmate on a more personal level. Compassion is more prevalent, once a person is able to see themselves in the persons’ situation. This can be seen discussed for centuries. In the story of Plainclothes was a good man and a good soldier. He one day was bitten by a snake, that caused him horrendous pain, which in return he shouted religious obscenities that offended his fellow soldiers.
His commanders then decided to leave him to suffer. He lives in pain, with animals as his friends and his food. According to the story, the chorus of soldiers that heard about his story 10 years later, decided even before they see the man, they imagine vividly what it is like to be him- and they enter a protest against the callousness of the commanders and demand to go back and save him. For my part, I pity him- thinking of how, with no living soul to care for him, seeing no friendly face, wretched, always alone, he suffers with a fierce affliction, and has no resources to meet his daily needs. How in the world does the poor man survive? Nassau 27) This story is another example of how even when a person makes a mistake, if you can put yourself in that person’s position, or see them on a more personal level, naturally humans are to have more compassion for the person.
This is what Sister Helen does, by showing emotion and compassion through her tone of voice, aiming to make the audience see Mr.. Sonnies as a person, who deserves life. Another way Sister Helen uses pathos to express that all criminals deserve life is by solidifying the importance of personal responsibly. She explains the refusal for personal responsibility in this passage: Who killed this man [Patrick Sonnies]? Nobody. Everybody can argue that he or she was Just doing a Job – the governor, the warden, the head of the Department of Corrections, the district attorney, the Judge, the Jury, the Pardon Board, the witnesses to the execution.
Nobody feels personally responsible for the death of this man. 101) This aims to show the audience that each person involved in the case, and execution should feel as if in some aspect, it was if they each pulled the switch that caused the man to lose his life. That from the governor who feared a loss of support for his campaign if he was to oppose Mr.. Sonnies death, to the head of corrections who organizes the executions who which feels that the death penalty is morally wrong. She raises the question, if these people are against the death penalty, shouldn’t they have a personal responsibility to stand up for the inmates facing execution? What is the severance between personal values, and personal duty? These are reasons she feels there is personal responsibility involved in the death penalty that people refuse to believe, adding to her argument opposing capital punishment.
The last form of pathos she uses to show why capital punishment is wrong, is showing the morality involved in executions. She wants the reader to see the immoralities of killing a man in the name of Justice. How is a government to say they are powerful enough, or wise enough to take the life of a man? She claims “Government can’t be trusted to control its own bureaucrats or collect taxes equitably or fill a pothole, much less decide which of its citizens to kill” (21) Society condemns the men who take the lives of others, but when it is done is the hands of the government, is it right and Just? How does the government have the right to such an absolute power, which is death? Throughout the whole first-person account, she is constantly questioning the morality involved with legal murder. She believes that an eye for an eye, is not to be taken literally. That the Jesus she believes in does not mete out violence with violence, pain with pain, torture with torture.
She believes that people can be forgiven by God, and do not deserve to be removed from the world before they can redeem themselves to God. Also, as long as they removed from society, and the possibility to kill again, that is as moral and Just as punishment can be. The Iowa Supreme Court stated this, “Crime indicates a diseased mind in the same manner that sickness and pain do a diseased body. And as in the one case we provide hospitals for the treatment of severe and contagious diseases, so in the other, prisons and asylums should be provided for similar reasons. ” (Regis) This goes along with Sister Hellene statement that imprisonment is the only moral way to punish criminals, that death passes the line of morality.
As a hospital is made for the diseased, prisons are made for the criminally deranged. There are places made for people who commit crime, and they have a right to be put where they are designed to go. Death is a design far to cruel, for anyone with a moral conscience to enforce. Sister Helen has a very graceful way of explaining why the death penalty questions morality and does this through the strong use of pathos. Pathos are used in this non- action book by Sister Helene strong, compassionate tone of voice, the question of moral responsibility and the immorality of capital punishment.
She does this through several passages, that show her compassion, her call-out to the people involved in Sinner’s murders, and how government’s should not have an absolute power which is death. In conclusion Sister Helen makes many strong points that show multiple reasons why the death penalty is an unjust, and immoral way of punishment. She makes the reader question their opinions on capital punishment, and proves over and over how wrong it is. The opposing side is mentioned, but she always has an intelligent, emotion-stirring response.