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A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines

A Lesson Before Dying (1993)

by Ernest J. Gaines

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I'm a person who enjoys books with deeper meanings than what is written, and this book hit the target. It was a required reading, but I'm glad that I read it. ( )
  hockeyzc58 | Jul 16, 2014 |
I really enjoyed reading this book. It delves into self-image and how even one person around us can really make a difference in someone else's life. Jefferson, a black man, is falsely convicted of murder of a white man by 12 white jurors. He is convicted to death by electric chair. As a poor black man, he has no dignity or honor. Even during the trial, his defense attorney calls him a "hog". While awaiting death in jail, Miss Emma wants to break the cycle of black slaves for 300 years and running from the white people. She enlists the help of a local schoolteacher, Grant and asks him to teach him that he is not a hog and works with him to improve his self-image so that he can die with dignity and honor like a man. ( )
  berthacummins | Mar 19, 2014 |
When a young black man is inadvertently caught up in a liquor store robbery gone terribly wrong in 1940's Louisiana, he is summarily convicted of murder by an all-white jury, and sentenced to death by a white judge.

A black shoolteacher is asked to instill a sense of worth and dignity in him so that he can go to the electric chair "like a man".

The subjects that this novel covers are very difficult ones - race and c apital punishment. However, in some ways is more important than ever. Reading it really brought home to me how little things have changed in some ways. I urge anyone who has not yet read this book to do so, with that in mind. ( )
  bookwoman247 | Feb 11, 2014 |
This work is a fairly quick read. The first 2/3 of the book provides an insight into the life of an African American in the south in the 1940's in a small town. The remainder of the work is emotionally overwhelming as you read Jefferson's (convicted) diary and see the effect of the electrocution on the townspeople, both black and white. The narrative almost makes you
feel that you are a resident of the town. There is little question that Mr. Wiggins, schoolteacher, learns more from Jefferson facing death than the wisdom he imparts. ( )
  66usma | Dec 4, 2013 |
Blah. Writing by numbers. ( )
  GeoffWyss | Aug 12, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0375702709, Paperback)

Oprah Book Club® Selection, September 1997: In a small Cajun community in 1940s Louisiana, a young black man is about to go to the electric chair for murder. A white shopkeeper had died during a robbery gone bad; though the young man on trial had not been armed and had not pulled the trigger, in that time and place, there could be no doubt of the verdict or the penalty.

"I was not there, yet I was there. No, I did not go to the trial, I did not hear the verdict, because I knew all the time what it would be..." So begins Grant Wiggins, the narrator of Ernest J. Gaines's powerful exploration of race, injustice, and resistance, A Lesson Before Dying. If young Jefferson, the accused, is confined by the law to an iron-barred cell, Grant Wiggins is no less a prisoner of social convention. University educated, Grant has returned to the tiny plantation town of his youth, where the only job available to him is teaching in the small plantation church school. More than 75 years after the close of the Civil War, antebellum attitudes still prevail: African Americans go to the kitchen door when visiting whites and the two races are rigidly separated by custom and by law. Grant, trapped in a career he doesn't enjoy, eaten up by resentment at his station in life, and angered by the injustice he sees all around him, dreams of taking his girlfriend Vivian and leaving Louisiana forever. But when Jefferson is convicted and sentenced to die, his grandmother, Miss Emma, begs Grant for one last favor: to teach her grandson to die like a man.

As Grant struggles to impart a sense of pride to Jefferson before he must face his death, he learns an important lesson as well: heroism is not always expressed through action--sometimes the simple act of resisting the inevitable is enough. Populated by strong, unforgettable characters, Ernest J. Gaines's A Lesson Before Dying offers a lesson for a lifetime.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:24:26 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

From the author of, A Gathering of Old Men and The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman comes a deep and compassionate novel. Grant Wiggins, a college-educated man returns to 1940s Cajun, he visits and forms an unlikely bond with Jefferson, a young Black man convicted of murder and sentenced to death, for a crime he didn't commit. Together they come to understand the heroism of resisting. Best Books for Young Teen Readers. In the 1940s in rural Louisiana, an uneducated African American man is sentenced to die for a crime he was incapable of committing.… (more)

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