What is James Wright saying in the poem "At The executed Murderer's Grave"?no

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Kristen Lentz | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Basically, the point of "At the Executed Murderer's Grave" is to examine the pathology of being a social outcast, guilt, and death.  It is not exactly what you would call a cheerful poem by any stretch of the word.  Wright uses the example of convicted murderer George Doty to say, 'Look, here is a man who made a horrible choice, a stupid choice," but even so, the rest of mankind really is not any different.  In this poem, the speaker portrays death and guilt as the great equalizers; everybody is guilty of wrongdoing, of sin, just as everyone will eventually die.  Wright observes that nobody will be able to tell his eventual rotting corpse from that of Doty's.  In the end, we are all the same. 

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