The Responsibility of Redemption Essay discusses the angst and emotion of seeking redemption, or helping others to find redemption, specific to characters in two recently read books, A Lesson Before Dying, by Gaines, and Sunshine, by S. Wiesenthal.

Essay by wintervestHigh School, 11th gradeA, June 2010

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I.C. Shain

Ms. Clark


June, 4, 2010

The Responsibility of Redemption

In Gaines' book A Lesson before Dying we are introduced to the story of Jefferson, a young black man, and his heart-wrenching journey of finding dignity as a man before he is put to death for a crime he did not commit. Simon Wiesenthal's The Sunflower, is about his struggle between choosing to forgive a dying Nazi officer, or leaving him to die with the burden of his sins. Both novels and their main characters; Grant and Simon, are dealing with the challenging theme of redemption through death.

Simon Wiesenthal was a survivor of the Nazi death camps during World War 2, and since then, he dedicated his life to finding guilty perpetrators and making sure that they were held accountable for their injustice to humanity. During his time in the death camps, Wiesenthal was faced with the decision of forgiving a Nazi soldier on his death bed, or leaving him to die with his guilt.

Essentially, Wiesenthal decides to neither deny, nor grant the soldier his dying wish, thinking that it was simply not his place to forgive the Nazi. After the war and Wiesenthal's freedom, he journeys back to the mother of the Nazi soldier and lies to her, saying that her son was a very honorable man, and that he died in the grace of God. Since Wiesenthal's experience with the dying Nazi officer, he became the founder and head of the Jewish Documentation Center in Vienna. Simon Wiesenthal died On September 20, 2005, he died peacefully in his sleep at his home, and the Simon Wiesenthal center was subsequently founded by Rabbi Marvin Heir in his honor.

How can Grant redeem Jefferson as a man before he is put to death? Is it...