Disparate Levels Of God's Grace In 'Dead Man Walking'

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“Dead Man Walking” depicts a man, Matthew Poncelet, on death row. While on death row, Matthew pursues the council of Sister Helen Prejean. Matthew has been arraigned for murdering teenagers, Hope Percy and Walter Delacroix, and raping Hope. Sister Helen guides him to acknowledge what he has done and reorient his life towards God. She also provides him with legal council, attempting to adjust his death penalty sentence. By the resolution of the movie, Matthew has reoriented his life towards God; however, he still perishes for his actions. “Dead Man Walking” demonstrates disparate levels of God’s grace, particularly judgement and redemption, through the lens of the people involved in Matthew’s case. Grace is illustrated in the movie predominantly through Sister Helen; the lack of grace is shown through the fathers of the victims. Sister Helen and Matthew correspond through letters before she finally goes to visit him in prison. From the very beginning, Sister Helen is gracious towards Matthew. Asking questions about his life, Sister Helen treats him in a way that establishes kindness. One way in which she demonstrates grace is by attempting to lessen his sentence. Filing a motion for an appeal, getting him a lawyer, convincing his mother to testify for him are just a few of the generous deeds that Sister Helen does for Matthew. However, none of these options manage to liberate him. Another way Sister Helen is gracious towards Matthew is offering him knowledge about God.
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