scene 7:courtroom.Clerk:silence in court!defendents rise
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In the story, the death penalty is present because Absalom is sentenced to hang. I don't think the theme of the story is about the death penalty rather than the mitigating circumstances of the crime that the judge refuses to acknowledge. AS well there is the sense that Absalom has been betrayed by his own. There is the implication that an admission of guilt for the other two defendants would mitigate the sentence that Absalom receives; thus Matthew Kumalo and Johannes Pafuri sacrifice Absalom Kumalo in order to save themselves.