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Dead Man Walking

Essay by   •  March 8, 2011  •  311 Words (2 Pages)  •  998 Views

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A caring nun receives a desperate letter from a death row inmate trying to find help to avoid execution for murder. Over the course of the time to the convict's death, the nun begins to show empathy, not only with the pathetic man, but also with the victims and their families. In the end, that nun must decide how she will deal with the paradox of caring for that condemned man while understanding the heinousness of his crimes.

Sarandon's Catholic nun is at the focal point of Dead Man Walking -- and it's a performance to match her co-star's for aptness and intensity. Helen is the one we identify with, and the person around which all the moral and spiritual crises revolve. How can she lend comfort to someone like Matthew Poncelet? How can she, as a servant of God, refuse? And, if she remains firm in her resolve to stand by his side, how can she face the parents of the murdered boy and girl? Dead Man Walking knows the right questions, but there are no easy answers, as Helen quickly discovers. She is exposed to everyone's pain: Matthew's ("Sister, you're all I've got"), his family's, and that of the victims' relatives (looking for "simple justice for their unbearable loss"). It's almost more than one woman can bear, but Helen is strong -- strong enough to offer love to one of the most detestable human beings she has ever met

There's never any doubt that Matthew was involved in the crime for which he is going to die, although he denies pulling the trigger. And Dead Man Walking doesn't attempt to portray him as a wrongly accused innocent man or someone misunderstood by society. He's a nasty piece of work -- an arrogant, trash-talking racist. But, beneath all the bluster, he's lonely and frightened, as Helen discovers when she starts to probe.

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