The Dream (Henry)

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The Dream
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A condemned man awaited his execution in an electric chair, contemplating his fate and interacting with fellow prisoners. As he was strapped in, he experienced a vivid, life-altering dream.

Murray was a prisoner waiting in his cell in the ward of the condemned. He was scheduled to be executed by electrocution at eight o'clock in the evening. As he waited, he played with an ant on his table and conversed with his fellow inmates, including Bonifacio, a Sicilian who had killed his betrothed and two officers.

Murray — condemned man; calm and indifferent at first, later overwhelmed by a vivid dream.
Bonifacio — fellow prisoner; Sicilian, convicted for multiple murders; philosophical and boisterous.

They had spent many hours playing checkers together, calling out their moves to each other from their separate cells. Bonifacio speaks to Murray from his cell, expressing his acceptance of their fate and the importance of facing death with courage. This happens shortly before Murray's execution.

Men like us, we must-a die like-a men. My time come nex’-a week. All-a right.

As the time for his execution approached, Murray was visited by his childhood friend, Leonard Winston, who had become a reverend.

Reverend Leonard Winston — Murray's childhood friend; took the place of the prison chaplain to support Murray during his execution.

Leonard had managed to take the place of the prison chaplain in order to be with Murray during his final moments. Murray was also offered a drink of whiskey by the prison guard, which he accepted to calm his nerves. The prison guard offers Murray a drink of whiskey before his execution, explaining that it's a common practice for those facing the electric chair.

It’s the regular thing, you know. All has it who feel like they need a bracer. No danger of it becoming a habit with ’em, you see.

As Murray was led down the corridor to the execution room, only three of the seven condemned prisoners called out their farewells to him. These were Bonifacio, Marvin, who had killed a guard while trying to escape, and Bassett, a train-robber. The other four prisoners remained silent, perhaps feeling ostracized by the more "aristocratic" criminals.

In the execution room, Murray was strapped into the electric chair. As the preparations were being made, he began to feel a sense of unreality and confusion. He wondered why he was being executed and what crime he had committed. In the moments before the current was turned on, Murray had a vision of a peaceful country cottage, where he saw a woman and a child who were his wife and child. He embraced them, believing that his impending execution was just a dream and that he was actually living a happy life with his family.

However, this vision was not reality, and Murray was executed as planned. His dream had been the wrong one, and he was unable to escape his fate.