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A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines

J. Gaines' novel "A Lesson before Dying" is set in Louisiana during the time of segregation. The story begins with Jefferson a young black man being caught in the middle of a convenience store robbery. When he is found guilty it is no surprise, especially not to Grant an educated black man who’s aunt (Taunt Lou) was Jefferson’s’ Godmother (Miss. Emma) best friend.

After the trial Miss. Emma cannot help but feel ashamed and angry because the attorney called Jefferson a hog. This gives her an idea and she asks Grant to educate Jefferson before he dies. Miss. Emma says “I want a man to die, not a hog”. Although Grant is reluctant eventually he agrees to tutor Jefferson. All the while the reader gets a profound sense that Grant feels that his efforts are futile.

As time progresses Jefferson makes strides however what is more significant is the lesson that is learned by Grant. A once bitter, black man, who was pessimistic and haughty, found himself and his changed person become Jefferson’s legacy.

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