A Lesson Before Dying Summary Notes

1827 Words8 Pages
Corinne Murdock Nolan
AP Lit
10 August 2015
A Lesson Before Dying Summary Notes
Title of Book
• Entire novel about a teacher trying to teach a man named Jefferson that he is a man, not a hog, before he is executed.
• It was important for Jefferson’s caretaker, Miss Emma, and the entire black community that he dies as a man- proud and brave.
Author- Ernest J. Gaines
• Born in 1933 in Oscar, Louisiana
• Author and educator
• Wrote several books- Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman discusses period from the Civil War to the civil rights movement
• 1994- National Book Critics Circle Award for A Lesson Before Dying
• Published in 1993
• Set in the late 1940s in small Cajun community and the city of Bayonne
• Jim Crow laws in place, segregation- “separate but equal.” Page 25- describes separation.
• Inequality between blacks and whites
Character Analysis
• Grant Wiggins o School teacher for black school o Wants to leave Bayonne o Dating Vivian, a white woman o “I tried to decide just how I should respond to them. Whether I should act like the teacher that I was, or like the nigger that I was supposed to be” (Gaines 47). o Not religious- according to him, he is too busy to attend church. He does not believe in heaven, a place where everyone is happy. But he does believe in God. o “I know you believe… You don’t want to, but I know you do” (Gaines 105). o Round character- very conflicted. Mixed thoughts with religion, wants to leave but feels a responsibility to stay,
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