Themes and Meanings (Masterplots II: Drama, Revised Edition)
Execution of Justice closely follows the real-life case of Dan White and emphasizes a clear lesson: The lack of respect for, and intolerance toward, others leads to and perpetuates violence. Dan White never explains why he shot the two men and never expresses any remorse in the play, just as he did not in the actual case. White is a war veteran and a former policeman who starred in the police baseball league. His closest acquaintances were policemen who had been his former colleagues and who, like White, deplored the openness accorded to gays in the Castro district. White was also an elected member of the board of supervisors, and the fact that Harvey Milk became a supervisor at the same time made White even more indignant in his intolerance. White resigned from the board but later changed his mind and wanted to return. The fact that Mayor Moscone had already chosen a replacement for the position kindled in White a hatred of the mayor and the openly gay Harvey Milk.
The play accurately depicts the historical facts that White took the gun he had as a policeman, now not even registered, along with extra bullets and went to City Hall. He climbed into the building through a back window to avoid going through the metal detector. He chatted with the secretary while waiting to see the mayor, entered the mayor’s office, and fired his gun repeatedly, even after Mayor Moscone was clearly dead. He reloaded his gun at some point and headed for Harvey...
(The entire section is 472 words.)
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