Connie's Reviews > A Lesson Before Dying

A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines
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Aug 12, 15

bookshelves: classic, african-american, louisiana, summer-2015, southern-lit
Read from August 12 to 13, 2015

Jefferson, a simple black laborer, found himself in a liquor store during an armed robbery. The innocent man was in the wrong place when the owner was murdered, and he was convicted of the crime in the late 1940s. The public defender had tried to convince the jury that Jefferson was not intelligent enough to plan the crime. The teacher Grant Wiggins described the trial: "He said it would be like tying a hog down into that chair and executing him--an animal that didn't know what any of it was all about. The jury, twelve white men good and true, still sentenced him to death. Now his godmother wants me to visit him and make him know--prove to these white men--that he's not a hog, that he's a man."

The book shows the prejudice of the Jim Crow Era in the way the black people are treated, especially in the deep South. Even Grant, an educated man, is treated in an inferior manner, having to come in the back door and wait for hours to speak to a white man. But if he moves from his rural Louisiana town to another region of the country, he will have to leave his roots and people he loves.

Jefferson and Grant form a bond during their visits, and Jefferson dies with dignity. He dies as a martyr, a Christ-like figure executed exactly two weeks after Good Friday. A witness said Jefferson was the strongest man in the room. Another injustice served.
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08/12 marked as: currently-reading
08/12 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-8 of 8) (8 new)

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message 1: by Zoeytron (new)

Zoeytron A well-written and thoughtful review, Connie.


message 2: by Laura (new) - added it

Laura I haven't read this Gaines book but I absolutely love his writing!


message 3: by Laura (new) - added it

Laura Very nice review!


message 4: by Howard (last edited Aug 13, 2015 05:18AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Howard Very good, Connie. Your review was right on the mark.


Connie Zoeytron wrote: "A well-written and thoughtful review, Connie."

Thanks for your nice remarks, Zoeytron.


Connie Laura wrote: "Very nice review!"

Thank you for reading my review, Laura.


Connie Howard wrote: "Very good, Connie. Your review was right on the mark."

Thanks, Howard. Have you read the book The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration about the people who left the deep South during the Jim Crow era, leaving family and the warm weather they loved? Many either feared for their lives or were not able to get a professional job during that time. Very sad.


Howard Connie wrote: "Howard wrote: "Very good, Connie. Your review was right on the mark."

Thanks, Howard. Have you read the book The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration ..."


No, I haven't. I know about the book, but haven't gotten around to reading it. But since you reminded me, I am going to add it.


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