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Dead Man Walking | Chapter Summaries

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Timeline of Events

  • 1977

    Patrick Sonnier and his brother Eddie commit murder.

    Chapter 1
  • May 1980

    Robert Willie and his accomplice, Joe Vaccaro, murder Faith Hathaway.

    Chapter 6
  • January 1982

    Sister Helen Prejean exchanges letters with death row inmate Patrick Sonnier.

    Chapter 1
  • September 1982

    Prejean becomes Sonnier's spiritual adviser and begins visiting him in prison.

    Chapter 2
  • March 1983

    Prejean visits Eddie Sonnier, Patrick's brother, for the first time.

    Chapter 2
  • July–November 1983

    All of Patrick Sonnier's court appeals have been turned down.

    Chapter 3
  • March 1984

    Prejean and Millard Farmer meet the governor, who will not commute Sonnier's death sentence.

    Chapter 3
  • April 1984

    Prejean, Millard, and others speak before the Pardon Board, which refuses commutation for Sonnier.

    Chapter 4
  • April 1984

    Sonnier is executed in the electric chair.

    Chapter 4
  • October 1984

    Prejean becomes death row inmate Robert Willie's spiritual adviser.

    Chapter 5
  • October 1984

    Prejean visits Willie in prison for the first time.

    Chapter 6
  • October 1984

    Prejean and others march against the death penalty.

    Chapter 6
  • November 1984

    Prejean visits the Harveys and understands their rage at the loss of their daughter, Faith.

    Chapter 6
  • November 1984

    The Pardon Board denies commutation of Willie's death sentence.

    Chapter 8
  • December 28, 1984

    Willie is executed in the electric chair.

    Chapter 9
  • August 1987

    Prejean attends a victims' families support group started by the Harveys.

    Chapter 11
  • August 1988

    Prejean helps establish a victims' families support group in New Orleans.

    Chapter 11
  • January 1991

    Prejean attends Survive, a victims' families support group in Louisiana.

    Chapter 11
  • 1991

    Prejean joins Lloyd LeBlanc at early morning prayer. He has forgiven Sonnier.

    Chapter 11
  • September 1991

    Howard Marsellus tells Prejean of corruption in the Pardon Board system.

    Chapter 8

Chapter Summaries Chart

Chapter Summary
Chapter 1 At the beginning of the book Sister Helen Prejean agrees to become a pen pal to a death row inmate in Louisiana's Angola... Read More
Chapter 2 Patrick Sonnier is excited to meet Prejean, and he puts her on the prison visitor list. He requests having her as his sp... Read More
Chapter 3 Prejean contacts Millard Farmer, an Atlanta attorney who helps death row prisoners. Farmer has reviewed Patrick Sonnier'... Read More
Chapter 4 Prejean gets permission to carry a letter from Eddie Sonnier to the governor stating that Patrick is not guilty of the m... Read More
Chapter 5 Prejean is deeply shaken after the execution and helps finalize the arrangements for Sonnier's funeral and burial. Angol... Read More
Chapter 6 To fill her in, Farmer tells Prejean about Robert Willie who, with accomplice Joe Vaccaro, went on an eight-day "rampage... Read More
Chapter 7 On her way home Prejean thinks about Faith Hathaway's murder and her parents' anguish. "Great as the sea is thy sorrow,"... Read More
Chapter 8 Millard Farmer has recruited the lawyer John Craft to represent Robert Willie at his Pardon Board hearing. Prejean is at... Read More
Chapter 9 An interview with the Harveys reveals they are angry with Prejean. They feel she "used them" to support her argument bef... Read More
Chapter 10 After Willie's execution Prejean is interviewed by the assembled press. Vernon Harvey is interviewed as well about his w... Read More
Chapter 11 Prejean hesitates meeting with the Harveys, who rally at every execution at Angola. Prejean wonders, "On what common gro... Read More
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