Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Confession

Statue of Justice
Image Courtesy: Google
The Confession follows the story of Donte Drumm, a young black who was convicted for the murder of his school mate called Nicole Yarber. The story begins with the showing up of the real killer, Travis Boyette. The killer meets a Lutheran minister in his church office, Keith Schroeder. This was in Kansas and the execution of Donte Drumm was planned in Huntsville, Texas. Keith’s adventure to take the real killer to Texas, in order to stop the execution is a nerve jangling episode in the novel.

During this trip the two sides of the society confronts each other—one; the ethical and moral side represented by Keith Schroeder and two; the chaotic immoral side in Travis Boyette. During their sparse, but meaningful conversation, Keith investigates into the depths of the stinking and murky self of Boyette. He was in jail as a kid and was addicted to the world of porn, all thanks to his uncle. In Boyette’s own words, “[t]he juvenile justice system does nothing but cultivate career criminals. Society wants to lock us up and throw away the key, but society is too stupid to realize that we’ll eventually get out. And when we get out, it ain’t pretty. Take me.” (184)

The book scrutinizes closely the rituals and norms involved in the death penalty and the life of the inmates through Donte’s life in the death row, with powerful doses of irony. The Confession is a poignant book, emotional and disturbing. John Grisham has not flinched in narrating racial tension and hypocrisy of an American state in its dealing with the death penalty of a black man. A racial riot follows Donte’s case and execution, along with a rattling anti-death-penalty movement.      
Freytag's Arc (triangle)
Image Courtesy: Google

I also observed the Freytag’s modal dramatic arc in the book. This makes the book all the more enjoyable. There is exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and dénouement. The final pages of the book wait patiently and observe the lives of all the major characters, with no rush to put the full stop at the end. This quality is remarkable in Grisham. Frankly, I would have put The Confession on “the book of the year” in my blog, if I were to give away such an award. I have to say there are places where I wept and everything around me just went blank.

There are many factors that help a book gain a considerable weight in someone’s perspectives. What hooked me to The Confession at this stage in my life is perhaps its deeply poignant dwelling on the prison life of Donte Drumm and the mad rush and honest fight put up by Robbie Flak, Drumm’s lawyer and Keith Schroeder. There was little difference in the emotional and physical experiences that Donte undergoes in prison with my life in a society as deeply corrupt as ours. To tell you the truth, I even thought at occasions when I went through Donte’s life in prison, his daily routines, hopes and the shattering of them—aren’t I living the same lot too, though with no visible iron bars to guard?
John Grisham
Image Courtesy: Google

“…[B]ut as he (Keith) watched the preliminaries unfold, he was struck by the coldness, the ruthless efficiency, the sanitized neatness of it. It was similar to killing an old dog, a lame horse, or a laboratory rat. Who, exactly, gives us the right to kill? If killing is wrong, then why are we allowed to kill? As Keith stared at Donte, he knew the image would never go away. And he knew that he would never be the same.” (296) 

Courtesy: John Grisham 

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