CHARACTERS ñ A Lesson Before Dying

Ernest J. Gaines ê 1 CHARACTERS

As returned to the plantation school to teach As he struggles with his decision whether to stay or escape to another state his aunt and Jefferson's godmother persuade him to visit Jefferson in his cell and impart his learning and his pride to Jefferson before his death In the end the two men forge a bond as they The third Ernest Gaines novel I ve read gets another 5 stars from me Just as in The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman and In My Father s House I was not uite the same person as I turned the last page that I was when I began There was a tiny seismic shift inside me that I recognized as another piece of understanding in this complicated dance of racial relations between black and whiteA simple story on the surface Young Jefferson a black man is in the wrong place at the wrong time and is sentenced to the electric chair His Godmother Miss Emma asks the local schoolteacher Grant Wiggins to visit him in jail and make him understand that he is not a hog with no understanding as the prosecutor decribed him but a young man that she is proud of The outcome is known from page one but the journey is long complicated and heart rending This is Louisiana in 1948 and the white man is in chargeAs in the other two books I mentioned the women in this novel are the strong ones and get things done Miss Emma and Aunt Lou get what they need through a combination of guilt bribery and respect They never hesitate to use them even on the white people They know what works So apparently does Ernest J Gaines His language is simple and direct but he can convey a world of emotion and feelings in just a few words He made me feel humiliation and anger and hurt so many times with just a description of a glance or movement He made me see that the black man s understanding of the white man has to be many times that of white for black just as an act of survival I ended this novel in tears not for Jefferson s death but for his life He was the bravest man in the room

SUMMARY A Lesson Before Dying

A Lesson Before Dying

Both come to understand the simple heroism of resisting and defying the expected Ernest J Gaines brings to this novel the same rich sense of place the same deep understanding of the human psyche and the same compassion for a people and their struggle that have informed his previous highly praised works of fictio A lesson Before Dying is a very MOVING book By reading most of the other reviews I m sure everyone understands what this novel is about I m not positive if I would have appreciated this book in High School had I read it 10 years ago I would like to thank Mr Gaines for his lessons I ve typed out a few powerful passages that moved meThere were but these are just some I made sure I highlighted A hero is someone who something for other people He does something that other men don t and can t do He is different from other men He is above other men No matter who those other men are the hero no matter who he is is above them Do you know what a myth is Jefferson I asked him A myth is an old lie that people believe in White people believe that they re better then anyone else on earth and that s a myth The last thing they ever want is to see a black man stand and think and show that common humanity that is in us all It would destroy their myth They would no longer gave justification for having made us slaves and keeping us in the condition we are in As long as none of stand they re safe Please listen to me because I would not lie to you now I speak from my heart You have the chance of being bigger then anyone who has ever lived on that plantation or come from this little town You can do it if you try You have seen how Mr Farrell makes a slingshot handle He starts with just a little piece of rough wood any little piece of scrap wood then he starts cutting Cutting and cutting and cutting then shaving Shaves it down clean and smooth till it s not what it was before but something new and pretty You know what I m talking about because you have seen him do it You had one that he made from a piece of scrap wood Yes yes I saw you with it And it came from a piece of old wood that he found in the yard somewhere And that s all we are Jefferson all of us on this earth a piece of drifting wood until we each of us individually decide to become something else I am still that piece of drifting wood and those out there are no better But you can be better

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A Lesson Before Dying is set in a small Cajun community in the late s Jefferson a young black man is an unwitting party to a liuor store shoot out in which three men A Lesson Epubare killed the only survivor he is convicted of murder and sentenced to death Grant Wiggins who left his hometown for the university h How did I feel at the end of this bookuplifted and beaten down both All the love and all the hate and all the even stultifying indifference All the indignity and indignation So many very heavy feelings spread through this sad story but there are moments of redemption if you watch carefully for themMany already know of the storythe teenaged boy who is in the wrong place at the wrong time and ends up sentenced to death His family wants him to die as a manand wants no demands the plantation teacher assist in this job Many people change during the course of this story including any thoughtful readersShortly after starting this book I realized that I was reading something very special powerful important And I realized that I was very glad to be reading it no matter how difficult it might ultimately become Now that I have finished reading I can only add that my first impressions were correct I believe every person in this country should read this book


10 thoughts on “A Lesson Before Dying

  1. says:

    How did I feel at the end of this bookuplifted and beaten down both All the love and all the hate and all the even stultifying indifference All the indignity and indignation So many very heavy feelings spread through this sa

  2. says:

    With raw unflinching honesty and a brilliant depiction of time and place this is the story of a young black man sentenced to death for being in the wrong place at the wrong time A white man was shot to death the o

  3. says:

    Reading Road Trip 2020Current location LouisianaMan walk on two foots; hogs on four hoofsThe entire front of my shirt is soaked right now from tears I am wrecked WreckedI do not understand several things at this moment as I have just finished this book 1 How did I not know who Ernest J Gaines was before I researched a “Louisiana” read for my road trip last year2 Why isn't this book an American classic as well known as To Kill

  4. says:

    This account of a school teacher's attempt to bring dignity to the last days of a condemned man in 1940's Louisiana is moving but still somehow disappointing Shortened it would have made a fine novella

  5. says:

    The third Ernest Gaines novel I've read gets another 5 stars from me Just as in The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman and In My Father's House I was not uite the same person as I turned the last page that I was when I began There was a tiny seismic shift inside me that I recognized as another piece of understanding in this complicated dance of racial relations between black and whiteA simple story on the surf

  6. says:

    I dare you to read this and not be moved Jefferson a poor uneducated twenty one year old Black was standing in the wrong place at the wrong time in a small town liuor store outside of Bayonne Louisiana It is the 1940s Three men are killed He is the only survivor He is “tried” convicted and sentenced to the electric chair His “nannan” has one reuest She asks that Grant Wiggins a teacher at the church sch

  7. says:

    “But let us say he was guilty Let us for a moment say he was guilty What justice would there be to take his lif

  8. says:

    A look back at Jim Crow era Louisiana Rosa Parks has yet take her rightful seat during the Montgomery Bus Boycott and it is still another twenty years until the Selma to Montgomery voting rights march But Jackie Robinson has recently become first baseman of the Brooklyn Dodgers In a Louisiana parish Jefferson a young black man has been convi

  9. says:

    A lesson Before Dying is a very MOVING book By reading most of the other reviews I'm sure everyone understands what this novel is about I'm not positive if I would have appreciated this book in High School had I read it 10 years ago I would like to thank Mr Gaines for his lessons I've typed out a few powerful passages that moved meThere were but these are just some I made sure I highlighted A hero is someone

  10. says:

    Some books if you don’t like them you feel you’re going to be excommunicated from all decent society and be

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