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A Lesson before Dying PDF
[PDF] A Lesson before Dying PDF (781 KB)
Author: Ernest J. Gaines
No. Of Pages: 208
PDF Size: 781 KB
Language: English
Category: eBooks & Novels
Source: Drive Files
A Lesson before Dying PDF

A Lesson before Dying Summary

When a slow-witted man named Jefferson was convicted of murder and sentenced to death, Grant Wiggins had been teaching for several years on a plantation outside of Bayonne, Louisiana. Jefferson insists that he is not the perpetrator of the crime. He claims he was on his way to a pub when he changed his mind and accompanied two men to a liquor store. When the two men came, they started arguing with the storeowner, which resulted in shooting. Jefferson remained at the murder site after the storeowner and the two men were slain. He was captured and accused with the murder of another person. Jefferson’s lawyer claims in court that Jefferson is a scumbag who is worth less than a hog and so incapable of developing such a plan. The jury renders a guilty judgement right away.

Miss Emma, Jefferson’s godmother, vows to help Jefferson die like a man, not a hog, after hearing the lawyer’s speech. She begs Grant to help her, fully aware that he will refuse. Grant had attended college a long time ago and returned a well-educated man. He is outraged by the injustices meted out to his fellow black men, but he refuses to intervene in Jefferson’s case. But, after much persuasion from his aunt, Tante Lou, he agrees to help Jefferson. When Grant, Miss Emma, and Grant’s aunt pay a visit to Jefferson in his cell, they learn that he, too, heard the lawyer’s remarks and has taken them to heart. Grant remains deafeningly silent and glum, despite Grant’s futile efforts to contact him. Before departing, the three visitors spend an awful hour in the cell.

Jefferson continues to block Grant’s efforts to communicate in subsequent meetings. When Grant attempts to teach Jefferson about dignity, Jefferson objects, claiming that it is just for “young men,” not pigs. He eats and snuffles like a pig and tries to annoy Grant with his obstinacy and rudeness, but Grant is tolerant. Grant persists in his efforts to contact Jefferson, despite the fact that each hour-long visit is a failure. Grant engages up a discussion with Jefferson about his goodbye meal on his fourth visit. Jefferson shares his desire for a gallon of vanilla ice cream, despite the fact that he has only ever had a thimbleful at a time. This admission starts to dismantle the barrier that had been built between the two men. Grant borrows money from the town’s residents and buys Jefferson a little radio. He gives Jefferson a notebook on his next visit and encourages him to scribble down any ideas that come to mind. By the time Grant arrives, Jefferson has occupied the majority of a page with reflections on the differences between pigs and men.

Grant’s relationships with his girlfriend Vivian and Reverend Ambrose start to heat up. Despite her affections for Grant, Vivian despises his self-centeredness and indifference to her needs. Grant uses Vivian to get away from his troubles, and he often tells them to leave their hometown and their Southern history behind. The Reverend Ambrose, who is unable to contact Jefferson personally, persuades Grant to put his atheistic beliefs aside and help save not just Jefferson’s character, but also his soul. According to the Reverend, Grant must learn to tell falsehoods in order to help others.

Grant concentrates his energies on Jefferson in an attempt to understand the importance of his death. Grant responds that he does not believe in heaven when Jefferson asks him if he believes in it. He qualifies this assertion, however, by stating that he is not a horrible person because he is an atheist. Grant claims that if he bears the cross for the sinners of the world, Jefferson will save even his atheistic soul. Grant claims that the quarter’s black population has been enslaved by white men for years, and that Jefferson’s attorney was insulting the will and intellect of the whole black community when he called him a “hog.” As a consequence, Jefferson now has the opportunity to speak out for his community. His people have made him a symbol, and how he accepts his mortality will have an influence on their self-esteem and potential.

Since he has become close to Jefferson, Grant is unable to attend the execution. At the moment of Jefferson’s execution, he urges his pupils to kneel at their desks in honor of him. He seems disturbed and bewildered as he exits the classroom. He realizes he was supposed to be there for the execution. After a few minutes, a deputy goes down from the courtroom and informs Grant that the execution has ended. He tells Grant that that morning, Jefferson was the most daring person in the room. Grant stares out over town, numb and heavy-hearted, and realizes he’s crying.

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