A Lesson Before Dying

Gaines, Ernest J. (Book - 1994)
Average Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5.
A Lesson Before Dying
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A Lesson Before Dying , is set in a small Cajun community in the late 1940s. 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 unformed his previous, highly praised works of fiction.
Authors: Gaines, Ernest J., 1933-
Title: A lesson before dying
Publisher: New York : Vintage Books, 1994.
Edition: 1st Vintage contemporaries ed.
Characteristics: 256 p. ;,21 cm.
Local Note: 15 16 17 18 38 53 54 57 61 64 65 67 68 69 70 71 74 75 76 77 78 80 81 102 109 112 118 133 143 148 149 150 151 152 153 167 172 173 175 182 198 210 211 216 222 231 242 243 244 250 258 263 268 280
ISBN: 0375702709
Statement of Responsibility: Ernest J. Gaines
Subject Headings: Friendship Louisiana Fiction. Death row inmates Louisiana Fiction. African American men Louisiana Fiction.
Genre/Form: Historical fiction-1994.
Topical Term: Friendship
Death row inmates
African American men
LCCN: 93042201
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Feb 09, 2013
  • 51anne rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

I enjoyed the story and the writing style of Mr. Gaines. He was able to make the reader feel the anger and frustration of an educated black man living in America during the 1940's.

A Lesson Before Dying tells the story of a schoolteacher who is asked to visit a man wrongly accused and sentence to death simply for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. It reveals the strength of character and community, as well as showing what it takes to resist oppression while maintaining your pride.

Oct 01, 2011
  • vcc rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Gaines' novel is a rich portrayal of racial segregation in the late 1940s United States (Louisiana). He sets the scene early by talking of churches and schools being separated by colour, and how this disparity between the groups leads to a (an innocent?) black man being sent to die by electrocution for killing a white man. Gaines has choosen an interesting metaphor for racism by using the characters of a black school teacher (education) and an uneducated man whose fate is to be decided by others (ie. whites). Note: there is not much talk about the actual execution, for those of you who are squeamish. (Oct 2007)

Nov 04, 2007
  • Cabby rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Oprah's book club.


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Jul 24, 2014
  • Ferociousdog rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

Ferociousdog thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over


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Jul 24, 2014
  • Ferociousdog rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

"Called him a hog" by Grant's aunt


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