A Lesson Before Dying

Front Cover
Vintage Contemporaries, 1994 - Fiction - 256 pages
47 Reviews

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.

 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - BookConcierge - LibraryThing

What an extraordinarily moving book. I read it in one day, and sobbed for the last 30 pages. Grant Wiggins learns much from Jefferson, when he is supposed to be teaching him. They both learn something ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - rgruberhighschool - LibraryThing

RGG: Set in 1940's Louisiana, this is a story of a young man's response to another man's impending execution on death row. A wonderful companion to To Kill a Mockingbird, or even Walter Dean Myer's Monster. A couple brief sexually explicit passages. Read full review

Selected pages

Contents

Section 1
3
Section 2
10
Section 3
16
Section 4
24
Section 5
33
Section 6
42
Section 7
51
Section 8
59
Section 16
118
Section 17
125
Section 18
135
Section 19
143
Section 20
154
Section 21
162
Section 22
181
Section 23
190

Section 9
67
Section 10
75
Section 11
80
Section 12
86
Section 13
96
Section 14
103
Section 15
110
Section 24
198
Section 25
214
Section 26
222
Section 27
238
Section 28
250
Copyright

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About the author (1994)

Ernest Gaines was born on a plantation in Pointe Coup e Parish near New Roads, Louisiana, which is the Bayonne of all his fictional works. He is writer-in-residence emeritus at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. In 1993 Gaines received the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellowship for his lifetime achievements. In 1996 he was named a Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, one of France's highest decorations. He and his wife, Dianne, live in Oscar, Louisiana.

Bibliographic information