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Arts >> Dead Man Walking – Analysis of the Movie
People in society today have changed their feelings towards humanity and religious practises. This change is seen clearly in the movie “Dead Man Walking.” The characters go through changes in their view of religion and their feelings about human morality and humanity towards each other. The characters of Sister Helen, Matthew, and the victims parents all went through these changes during the movie for different reasons.
These emotional changes that the characters went through are very common. Everyone changes their ideals and morals depending on their situation. Matthew’s ideals changed because he feared that he was going to die alone. Sister Helen’s feelings changed because she saw a side of Matthew that no one else was able to see. The parents of the victim “Hope” were filled with revenge because of what Matthew did, not why he did it. The father of the victim “Walter” was very sympathetic, he understanding of what Matthew was going through.
Sister Helen was very unsure about what she was doing in life. She became a nun to give back to the community which gave her good Christian morals and values. By becoming a nun she was able to teach others to respect life and become more like Jesus (A Son of God). As a child Sister Helen was taught to be very supportive and to give this support to those who needed her help.
When confronted with Matthew, Sister Helen tries to see the good in him and show him the respect she believes he deserves. She believes that there is good in all man and that every person deserves respect. Sister Helen understands that what Matthew did was wrong, but she also knows that every person is worth more than their worst act, and that ,“No man deserves to die . . .”. In Sister Helen’s mind every man deserves a chance. From insight into her background and Christian upbringing Sister Helen is able to see and feel for Matthew as a person and not as an object of “…scum or as a monster…”.
The media’s understanding and the victims parents understanding is that Sister Helen believes that Matthew was wronged by the system. They feel like they have been betrayed by a God’s messenger (Sister Helen). To them Sister Helen is on Matthew’s side by helping him find God. Sister Helen is being torn apart because she does no want to hurt anyone’s feelings. She is compassionate and sympathetic to everyone’s feelings, but does not mean to hurt any by her actions of helping a murderer find God.
At the end of the movie Sister Helen wants Matthew to see a face of love (Hers) not one of hate and resentment (The Victims Parents). This means a lot to her because she has seen Matthew the person no longer Matthew the monster. Sister Helen felt compassionate towards Matthew because of the person he had become through getting to know her and understand what she believed and wanted.
At the beginning of the movie Matthew is rude and abrupt to Sister Helen that’s what happens on death row, “… you start to hate and resent everyone.” Matthew never thought that he would be visiting with a nun. Soon Matthew trusts Sister Helen and persuades her to help him by filing a petition not to kill him by lethal injection. This was a turning point in his attitude in understanding right and wrong. Matthew thinks that he got screwed by the system that’s why he’s going to die, not because he did something wrong. Matthew never had anyone that really cared about him except Sister Helen. Matthew was always lonely and only cared about number one ( Himself ). By talking and sharing with Sister Helen he starts to understand what he did was wrong.
Matthew’s mother was asked to pled for his life. This allowed the media and the parents of the victims to see him as someone’s child much like their own, and to explain that he was good boy not a monster. She explained in court that he had, “…had a hard life but he was a good boy.” Matthew wanted to protect his mother and not let her see him on trial for what he did. Matthew wanted to keep his pride by not seeing his mother crying for him. He wanted her to be happy and to not worry about him. This compassion is crucial to the total change in ideals and morals that Matthew has now (After knowing Sister Helen).
Matthew was going through a lot of changes now that he was going to die within a week. His understanding of life and humanity changed drastically from being a racist, saying that all the Black are victims and keep having slavery, to feeling compassion to everyone. Many of these feelings are because of his understanding of human life, as his life nears the end. This changes are all caused by the situation he is in.
At the end Matthew hopes that the father of Walter (the victim) can forgive him and accept that he knows what he was wrong and should be punished for it, but not punished to death. Hope’s farther does forgive him at the vary end of the movie. As for the parents of Hope, Matthew hopes that his death makes them happy even after the death of their son. Matthew also accepts responsibility for what he did and Sister Helen explains to him that by doing that he is now a son of God and can die with dignity. This is what was needed for Matthew, as a person.
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