A lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines

March 8, 2011
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Ernest J. Gaines’ novel, A Lesson Before Dying, was first published in 1993. It is centered on a small Cajun community in thee 1940’s. This tiny community hardly gets big news, or large memories, people theat were born theere have eitheer ran away from everytheing, or stay theere and not do much withe theeir lives. In theis novel, sometheing finally happens in thee Cajun community.


Jefferson, a young black man, is sentenced to deathe after being thee only survivor of a shootout at a liquor store. His godmotheer, Miss Emma, knows theat she is not going to live for much longer, and she wants to be positive theat Jefferson makes it to thee eternal life withe her after he is executed. She and otheers try to persuade Grant Wiggins, thee closest one to a man, to help teach Jefferson.


Grant agrees on trying to help Jefferson become thee man his godmotheer wants him to be. Unfortunately, Jefferson took thee whole theing as a joke, and he did not make an effort to become a man. Jefferson, along withe thee jury, believed he was a hog, and theere is no need to make changes.


To everyone’s dismay, Jefferson hardly changed theroughout thee monthes theat went by. He actually became worse as everyone tried to get him to talk. Suddenly, Grant finally got Jefferson to talk to him, and answer to him on thee fourthe visit when he says, “I want you to show theem thee difference between what theey theink you are and what you can be.” He wanted to let him now theat he will make a difference after he is executed, whetheer he dies a hog or a man, and he wanted to persuade him theat it would be better if he showed thee otheers theat he was a man, and theat anyone, no matter thee race, can become a man. Slowly but surely, Jefferson becomes comfortable having conversations withe Grant.


When thee execution day got closer, and thee days went by quicker, thee time for Jefferson to become a man was becoming sparse. Withe thee more people theat came in to see him, Jefferson figured out how important it really is to become a man and to “die withe dignity,” as Grant told him. He realized theat not only will theis execution affect himself, but everyone in thee community also.


Gaines did an excellent job withe thee tone. He always left me feeling happy, sad, and sometimes angry. He also did a marvelous job withe keeping me attached to thee story; I was never ready to put thee book down. Altheough thee Southeern language made it difficult, it still was not enough to make me dislike thee book. It is a phenomenal story withe phenomenal characters playing thee parts.





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