Anthony Ray Hinton was sent to death row for the murder of 3 men. These were restaurant owners who were robbed and then killed in a freezer. The 3rd of the allegedly murdered men who wasn’t killed but injured, identified Anthony Ray Hinton as the suspect. Meanwhile, Ray was working night shift at the time of this murder. He was found guilty and sentenced to death. He was later released after 30 years and detailed his exp[eriences being on death row, as an innocent man in this book The Sun does Shine.
At the end of the book, there were a couple questions for a book club. I am answering some on this post
Q- Before being wrongfully convicted and sentenced to death, Anthony Ray Hinton was in trouble with the law for stealing a car. Does this in any way make you less sympathetic to his plight
A- No, a mistake like that shouldn’t rob one of their entire life. Also, he already paid for that robbery.
Q- Discuss the friendship of Ray and Lester. Can you imagine a friend who would visit you every visiting day for thirty years? What does their relationship teach us about friendship?
A- “There is a friend that sticks closer than a brother” Lester was that friend. He was there consistently for 30 years
I know that my friends would have new responsibilities and move onto new seasons of life, so if I am in the same season of life for a long time I would forgive them if they moved onto other seasons
Because Lester had a choice and was still there for Ray, it made the sacrifice of more worth. He visited, he served, he loved without failing.
Q- What did you think of the friendship of Ray and fellow inmate Henry Hays, who was raised in a family of virulent racists? What does this friendship teach us about love and hate?
A- I think anyone is worthy of forgiveness. Even a virulent racist like Henry Hays. I might be in a different place if I was the one his actions affected. Love, just as hate is a choice. Forgiveness, just as bitterness is a choice too. It is for the sanity of everyone to forgive but it is especially for the sanity of the offended/ the victim.
Q- The state of Alabama has not apologized to or compensated Ray Hinton for his wrongful imprisonment. Do you think he should be paid? Some say he shouldn’t be paid because he was never proven innocent. What do you say to this argument?
A- Because they took his life from him, they took the years he could have used to develop himself, he should have been supported, compensated and helped to assimilate back into society. He should also have received assistance to gain skills that will enable him earn a living and support himself.
Q- Ray states that “spending your days waiting to die is no way to live” What are some ways that you practice living, not merely existing? Where do you draw the line between the two?
A- Doing the things that make me feel human, make me feel the most tender are ways I am intentional about living. Some of these things include reading, writing and speaking to loved ones.
Q- What is the role of faith in The Sun Does Shine? What if Ray Hinton had not believed in God at all: do you think that would have affected his ability to sustain himself?
A- In life, we all need an anchor- something to hold us down and keep us down, something that keeps us standing. For some, it’s faith, family, community or religion. For Ray, it was his mother, Lester and his faith. He might have struggled without his faith but likewise he would have struggled without any of these support.