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A Lesson Before Dying

Gaines, Ernest J.

(Book - 1994)
Average Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5.
A Lesson Before Dying
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From the author of, A Gathering of Old Men and The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman comes a deep and compassionate novel. Grant Wiggins, a college-educated man returns to 1940s Cajun, he visits and forms an unlikely bond with Jefferson, a young Black man convicted of murder and sentenced to death, for a crime he didn't commit. Together they come to understand the heroism of resisting. Best Books for Young Teen Readers. In the 1940s in rural Louisiana, an uneducated African American man is sentenced to die for a crime he was incapable of committing.

Series that include this title

Publisher: New York : Vintage Books, 1994
Edition: 1st Vintage contemporaries ed
ISBN: 9780375702709
0375702709
9780679741664
0679741666
9780785769811
0785769811
Branch Call Number: FICTION GAINES 1994
Characteristics: 256 p. ;,21 cm

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From the author of, A Gathering of Old Men and The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman comes a deep and compassionate novel. Grant Wiggins, a college-educated man returns to 1940s Cajun, he visits and forms an unlikely bond with Jefferson, a young Black man convicted of murder and sentenced to dea... Read More »

From the author of, A Gathering of Old Men and The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman comes a deep and compassionate novel. Grant Wiggins, a college-educated man returns to 1940s Cajun, he visits and forms an unlikely bond with Jefferson, a young Black man convicted of murder and sentenced to dea... Read More »

2003 Everybody Reads

When Jefferson's attorney states, "I would just as soon put a hog in the electric chair as this," disillusioned teacher Grant Wiggins is sent into the penitentiary to help Jefferson gain a sense of dignity and self-esteem before his execution.

Jefferson is wrongly sentenced to death in New Orleans after the murder of a White store owner. There is also a theatrical version. Historical Fiction.


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Jan 08, 2015
  • Chapel_Hill_KenMc rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

A modern classic, Gaines's spare prose details the heartbreaking last months of an uneducated young black man in 1940s rural Louisiana. Charged with awakening the youth's humanity in the days before he faces the electric chair, the local schoolteacher must confront his own weaknesses and failures before he can spark an emotional and intellectual awakening. Gaines confronts challenging issues of what makes us human, and what makes us inhuman.

Feb 09, 2013
  • 51anne rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

I enjoyed the story and the writing style of Mr. Gaines. He was able to make the reader feel the anger and frustration of an educated black man living in America during the 1940's.

Jul 18, 2012

A Lesson Before Dying tells the story of a schoolteacher who is asked to visit a man wrongly accused and sentence to death simply for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. It reveals the strength of character and community, as well as showing what it takes to resist oppression while maintaining your pride.

May 09, 2012
  • AmandaVollmershausen rated this: 2 stars out of 5.

I read this book as part of my grade 11 university English course, and frankly found it a bit dry. It's set in the mid 1900's in Louisiana and focuses on the racism prevalent. The text offers a lot of symbolism, but has really no climax or literary suspense. It has a good message and is an interesting story, but I wouldn't recommend it.

vcc
Oct 01, 2011
  • vcc rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Gaines' novel is a rich portrayal of racial segregation in the late 1940s United States (Louisiana). He sets the scene early by talking of churches and schools being separated by colour, and how this disparity between the groups leads to a (an innocent?) black man being sent to die by electrocution for killing a white man. Gaines has choosen an interesting metaphor for racism by using the characters of a black school teacher (education) and an uneducated man whose fate is to be decided by others (ie. whites). Note: there is not much talk about the actual execution, for those of you who are squeamish. (Oct 2007)

Nov 04, 2007
  • Cabby rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Oprah's book club.

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Jul 24, 2014
  • Ferociousdog rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

Ferociousdog thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

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May 09, 2012
  • AmandaVollmershausen rated this: 2 stars out of 5.

This novel follows the events after a verdict is handed out to an uneducated black man on shoddy evidence and very slim motives. The implication is that the verdict was racist and the rest of the book explores that theme. During his trial, the man, (Jefferson) is compared to a hog. The rest of the novel is about the development of his character as Grant, a cynical black schoolteacher teaches him that he is just as brave and valuable as any of the white folk. The novel is a heartfelt testimony that centres around the hopelessness of unjust discrimination and a person's self worth.

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Jul 24, 2014
  • Ferociousdog rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

"Called him a hog" by Grant's aunt

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