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James Wright's poem "At the Executed Murderer's Grave" is one of those poems where it is extremely helpful to understand the context and background of the story behind the poem. This particular poem reads like a true crime drama. The premise of James Wright's poem "At the Executed Murderer's Grave concerns the death of an executed murderer George Doty. He raped killed a young woman in the 1950s after he drove her out of town in a taxi cab.
In Wright's poem, he begins the poem by placing himself in relation to the location of Doty's grave: "twenty-five miles from this infected grave" (2). Throughout the rest of the poem, Wright identifies himself through the pathology of Doty and his crime, raising questions concerning justice, the death penalty, and personal guilt. Doty's crime remains central to the poem as Wright uses his crime and death to explore deeper issues of death and condemnation.
*I included a link below to a newspaper article about Doty's murder of Alma Montag
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