Death at midnight is the story of Donald Cabana of his encounters while working in a prison called Parchman Penitentiary which was located in Mississippi. When cabana first landed in Parchman, the prison was somewhat ‘human’ what with inmates being subjected to tasks such as planting cotton, vegetables and slaughtering the pigs and cows for their own consumption. On leaving Parchman a year later, Cabana returns as a warden only to find that it had been altered what with the crops now lacking and a new gas chamber put in place.
We can tell that cabana is against the death penalty judging from his adamancy to enter the chamber for years. Moreover, we note Cabana’s efforts to visit the men on death row. He observed that all these men had one thing in common; a disadvantaged background. In his escapades, he cultivates a special friendship with one inmate named Connie Ray Evans whose crime was murdering a convenience store clerk. They manage to form a strong bond and through this, he is able to see just how humane Connie is judging from how sorry he is for his crime.
In one instance, Cabana says, “Executions strip away the veneer or life for both the warden and the prisoner. Connie Ray Evans and I transcended our environment, and the roles in which we had been cast. The two of us had somehow managed to become real people to each other. There were no more titles or social barriers behind which either of us could hide. ” However, their union is cut short when Connie is randomly chosen for execution by the state of Mississippi in a tide of anti-crime fervor. (Cabana A. , 1998) According to Cabana, death penalty is not the solution to getting rid of the roots of crime.
He proposes first “examining the causes and consequences of the protracted warfare that our system of justice fosters and then proceed thereof depending on whether we find it palatable or not, even in the face of bitter contrary experiences. ” He is of the belief that “every human being has a spark somewhere hidden in him that will make it possible for redemption and rehabilitation. ”(Cabana A. , 1998) Clearly, the aim of this book is to oppose the death penalty and to show just how irrelevant it is in rooting out criminal behavior.
The theme of friendship and disillusionment is well portrayed here. Cabana tries to demonstrate this using his relationship with Connie who he feels did not deserve to be executed. The author’s style in this book is both narrative and analytical because as much as he narrates his encounters and experiences in prison, he is also quick to analyze and form an opinion regarding the justice system. References: Cabana A. D. , (1998) Death at Midnight: The Confession of an Executioner. City: UPNE
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