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Analysis of Dead Man Walking


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 

 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 

 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 

 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 



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