A Lesson Before Dying

Gaines, Ernest J.

Book - 1997
Average Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5.
A Lesson Before Dying
Print
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.

Publisher: New York : Vintage Contemporaries, [1997], c1993.
ISBN: 0375702709
9780375702709
Characteristics: 256 p. ;,21 cm.

Opinion

From the critics


Community Activity

Comment

Add a Comment

Jan 08, 2015
  • Chapel_Hill_KenMc rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

A modern classic, Gaines's spare prose details the heartbreaking last months of an uneducated young black man in 1940s rural Louisiana. Charged with awakening the youth's humanity in the days before he faces the electric chair, the local schoolteacher must confront his own weaknesses and failures before he can spark an emotional and intellectual awakening. Gaines confronts challenging issues of what makes us human, and what makes us inhuman.

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.

Jul 18, 2012

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.

May 09, 2012
  • AmandaVollmershausen rated this: 2 stars out of 5.

I read this book as part of my grade 11 university English course, and frankly found it a bit dry. It's set in the mid 1900's in Louisiana and focuses on the racism prevalent. The text offers a lot of symbolism, but has really no climax or literary suspense. It has a good message and is an interesting story, but I wouldn't recommend it.

vcc
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.

Age

Add Age Suitability

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

Ferociousdog thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

Summary

Add a Summary

May 09, 2012
  • AmandaVollmershausen rated this: 2 stars out of 5.

This novel follows the events after a verdict is handed out to an uneducated black man on shoddy evidence and very slim motives. The implication is that the verdict was racist and the rest of the book explores that theme. During his trial, the man, (Jefferson) is compared to a hog. The rest of the novel is about the development of his character as Grant, a cynical black schoolteacher teaches him that he is just as brave and valuable as any of the white folk. The novel is a heartfelt testimony that centres around the hopelessness of unjust discrimination and a person's self worth.

Quotes

Add a Quote

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

"Called him a hog" by Grant's aunt

Notices

Add a Notice

There are no notices for this title yet.

Find it at CLEVNET

  Loading...
[]
[]