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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Oprah Book Club® Selection, September 1997: In a small Cajun community in 1940s Louisiana, a young black man is about to go to the electric chair for murder. A white shopkeeper had died during a robbery gone bad; though the young man on trial had not been armed and had not pulled the trigger, in that time and place, there could be no doubt of the verdict or the penalty.
"I was not there, yet I was there. No, I did not go to the trial, I did not hear the verdict, because I knew all the time what it would be..." So begins Grant Wiggins, the narrator of Ernest J. Gaines's powerful exploration of race, injustice, and resistance, A Lesson Before Dying. If young Jefferson, the accused, is confined by the law to an iron-barred cell, Grant Wiggins is no less a prisoner of social convention. University educated, Grant has returned to the tiny plantation town of his youth, where the only job available to him is teaching in the small plantation church school. More than 75 years after the close of the Civil War, antebellum attitudes still prevail: African Americans go to the kitchen door when visiting whites and the two races are rigidly separated by custom and by law. Grant, trapped in a career he doesn't enjoy, eaten up by resentment at his station in life, and angered by the injustice he sees all around him, dreams of taking his girlfriend Vivian and leaving Louisiana forever. But when Jefferson is convicted and sentenced to die, his grandmother, Miss Emma, begs Grant for one last favor: to teach her grandson to die like a man.
As Grant struggles to impart a sense of pride to Jefferson before he must face his death, he learns an important lesson as well: heroism is not always expressed through action--sometimes the simple act of resisting the inevitable is enough. Populated by strong, unforgettable characters, Ernest J. Gaines's A Lesson Before Dying offers a lesson for a lifetime.From the Publisher:
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Book Description Vintage. PAPERBACK. Book Condition: New. 0375702709. Bookseller Inventory # GAT4912ABAC052015H0433
Book Description Alfred A. Knopf, 1997. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # mon0000486945
Book Description Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 1997. Paperback. Book Condition: New. New Book. Shipped from US within 10 to 14 business days. Established seller since 2000. Bookseller Inventory # VR-9780375702709
Book Description Penguin Random House. Book Condition: New. Brand New. Bookseller Inventory # 0375702709
Book Description Random House USA Inc, United States, 1997. Paperback. Book Condition: New. 203 x 132 mm. Language: English Brand New Book. From the author of A Gathering of Old Men and The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman comes a deep and compassionate novel. A young man who returns to 1940s Cajun country to teach visits a black youth on death row for a crime he didn t commit. Together they come to understand the heroism of resisting. Bookseller Inventory # ABZ9780375702709
Book Description Vintage, 1993. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. Trade paperback. Like new with minor edgewear. Bookseller Inventory # DH05704
Book Description Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # 144177
Book Description Vintage, 1994. Book Condition: New. Brand New, Unread Copy in Perfect Condition. A+ Customer Service! Summary: "This majestic, moving novel is an instant classic, a book that will be read, discussed and taught beyond the rest of our lives."-Chicago Tribune "A Lesson Before Dyingreconfirms Ernest J. Gaines's position as an important American writer."-Boston Globe "Enormously moving. Gaines unerringly evokes the place and time about which he writes."- Los Angeles Times. Bookseller Inventory # ABE_book_new_0375702709
Book Description Vintage. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # 0375702709
Book Description Vintage. PAPERBACK. Book Condition: New. 0375702709 Brand New Book. Ships from the United States. 30 Day Satisfaction Guarantee!. Bookseller Inventory # 4293991