A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines

September 30, 2011
By jennsonnnxx BRONZE, Oxford, Massachusetts
jennsonnnxx BRONZE, Oxford, Massachusetts
3 articles 0 photos 0 comments

After reading the first few pages of A Lesson Before Dying, it was clear that the author, Ernest J. Gaines, knew how to catch the attention of the reader. The book opened with the emotional decision of life or death, making the book impossible to put down. Gaines based his novel on the controversies of racism in the 1940’s, and the emotional reactions of the community.
The novel began in a courthouse during the trial of a young black man named Jefferson. He was accused of being involved in a shoot out, but the truth is, he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Although Jefferson did not commit the crime, the jury found him guilty and he was sentenced to death. The people of the courthouse called him a hog, greatly upsetting Miss Emma, Jefferson’s godmother. Miss Emma wants Jefferson to die a man rather than a hog. Grant Wiggins, a teacher in town, is forced to teach Jefferson to become a man before death. Grant Wiggins does not know how to teach Jefferson how to be a man, mostly because he does not even know how to be a man himself. Wiggins narrates the story and eventually forms a strong bond with Jefferson, only to realize that time runs out too quickly.
At time the book turned repetitive and Ernest J. Gaines has a way of dragging things out. However, his writing still took the reader through the emotional troubles of a black man in the early 1900’s. The book was good and taught a valuable life lesson to the reader. The book did convey a powerful message but I did not find it interesting enough to recommend it to anyone in particular.

“This will certify that the enclosed work is completely original”

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