Dead Man Walking
full title · Dead Man Walking: An Eyewitness Account of the Death Penalty in the United States
author · Helen Prejean, C.S.J.
type of work · Nonfiction
genre · Memoir; current affairs
language · English
time and place written · 1993, Louisiana
date of first publication · 1993
publisher · Random House.
narrator · Helen Prejean
point of view · First-person, subjective narration from Prejean’s perspective
tone · Compassionate, outraged
tense · Past, present, and future
setting (time) · 1982–1991
setting (place) · New Orleans and Baton Rouge, Louisiana
protagonist · Helen Prejean
major conflict · Prejean struggles to save Patrick’s life as his execution date draws near
rising action · Millard Farmer decides to assist Prejean with Patrick’s defense
climax · Patrick’s last few hours of life, from his final meal to his last words
falling action · Prejean returns home and, after six months, realizes she must continue to fight against capital punishment
themes · The redemptive power of love; the linked symptoms of social injustice; the importance of personal responsibility; the moral cost of executions
motifs · Supreme Court decisions; grief; the role of government
symbols · C. Paul Phelps; the death house; the work of Albert Camus
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