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A Lesson Before Dying 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 liquor store shoot out in which three men are killed the only survivor, he is convicted of murder and sentenced to death Grant Wiggins, who left his hometown for the university, has 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 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 fiction Protagonist Grant Wiggins is a schoolteacher of poor black children at a church in a small town in Louisiana in 1947 As the story opens, his aunt and her friend, Miss Emma, are attending the trial of Miss Emma s grandson, Jefferson, for murder Jefferson was in the wrong place at the wrong time and did not kill the white proprietor, but due to the deep racism of the time and place, the jury presumes he is guilty He is sentenced to death Miss Emma asks Grant to visit Jefferson in jail to help Protagonist Grant Wiggins is a schoolteacher of poor black children at a church in a small town in Louisiana in 1947 As the story opens, his aunt and her friend, Miss Emma, are attending the trial of Miss Emma s grandson, Jefferson, for murder Jefferson was in the wrong place at the wrong time and did not kill the white proprietor, but due to the deep racism of the time and place, the jury presumes he is guilty He is sentenced to death Miss Emma asks Grant to visit Jefferson in jail to help him feel a sense of self respect before he dies.The story shows the struggles of the black community living in the era of Jim Crow laws and segregation It brings them to a personal level, showing how difficult it is to live with dignity in the shadow of racism And of course, this is a lesson our society is still learning It is easy for the reader to empathize with Grant and Jefferson and develop a sense of outrage at the injustices they face Grant has no desire to attempt to teach moral knowledge, but he does it out of courtesy to his aunt and Miss Emma, and initially there is little response from Jefferson In the end, they both learn a lesson before dying Themes include bigotry, poverty, education, injustice, social class, religion, and sacrifice The tone is mostly bleak, but somehow the author ends it with a tiny ray of hope, and this is no small feat considering the subject matter It is a powerful and emotional story How did I feel at the end of this book.uplifted and beaten down, both All the love and all the hate and all the evenstultifying 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 them.Many 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 How did I feel at the end of this book.uplifted and beaten down, both All the love and all the hate and all the evenstultifying 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 them.Many 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 readers.Shortly 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 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 other two perpetrators dead, someone must be held accountable.A young school teacher, returned to the quarters to teach the black school children, and now enlisted by his aunt and the condemned man s nana to help the man go to his death as a man, not as an inhuman man, not much bett 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 other two perpetrators dead, someone must be held accountable.A young school teacher, returned to the quarters to teach the black school children, and now enlisted by his aunt and the condemned man s nana to help the man go to his death as a man, not as an inhuman man, not much better than a hog, a thing, not a person Poignant depiction of strong women, women who had to be since so many of the men had left and not returned In school I read this author but the book assigned was The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, which was also very good It is difficult for the reader not to e touched by this book, this young man s plight and the sorrow of the people closest to him The last chapter of this book is unforgettable At least it is for me 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.

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