He tagged along with two men who were on their way to a liquor store. The storeowner began arguing with them, and a shootout occurred. The storeowner and the two men died, and Jefferson was left at the scene of the crime alone with the gun. He was arrested and tried for murder. Jefferson’s lawyer argues in court that Jefferson is nothing but a hog, and therefore incapable of committing such a crime. The jury still brings back a guilty verdict. Upon hearing the lawyer’s speech, Jefferson’s godmother, Miss Emma, wishes for Jefferson to die like a man, not a hog. She asks Grant for help, as he is an educated man.
He despises the wrongdoings done to his fellow black men, but he does not want to get involved in Jefferson’s case. However, after immense amounts of force from his aunt Lou, he agrees to try to help Jefferson. Jefferson resists Grant’s attempts to reach him. Grant spends many uncomfortable visits in the cell with Jefferson. When Grant attempts to teach Jefferson about dignity, Jefferson insists that dignity is for humans, not hogs. He imitates a hog and tries to anger Grant with ignorance, but Grant keeps his cool. Each visit ends in failure, but Grant continues to try to reach Jefferson.
On his fourth visit, Grant gets Jefferson’s attention with a conversation about his final meal. Jefferson admits that he wants a gallon of ice cream because he almost never had any. This conversation begins to break down the barrier between Grant and Jefferson. Grant buys Jefferson a small radio and brings him a notebook to write down whatever thoughts come to his mind. Jefferson promises that he will, and by Grant’s next visit, Jefferson has filled a page with thoughts on the difference between hogs and men. Amidst Grant’s visits with Jefferson, he regularly visits with his girlfriend Vivian for advice and comfort.
Ulysses S Grant: A Man of Brilliance General Ulysses S. Grant's brilliant siege of Vicksburg had a significant impact on the surrender of the Confederacy. This Vicksburg campaign was significant due to the fact that it basically gave the Union total control of the Mississippi River. This meant the isolation of the West and basically a clear waterway for supplies to reach the Deep South. Once this ...
Grant continually suggests that they run away from their hometown and their past in the South. The Reverend Ambrose is unable to reach Jefferson, and instead asks Grant to save Jefferson’s character and soul. Jefferson asks Grant if he believes in heaven and Grant replies that he does not, but his atheism does not make him a good man. In fact, Jefferson will save even Grant’s soul if he carries the cross like Jesus did. Grant explains that the blacks in the quarter have always been enslaved to white men, and that when Jefferson was called a hog, the entire black community was degraded even more.
Now, Jefferson has the opportunity to stand up for his race. In March, the governor sets the execution date for two weeks after Easter. People young and old from the quarter come to Jefferson’s cell to speak to him. Jefferson realizes that he has become much more than an ordinary man, let alone a hog, and that his death will represent much more than he thought. Grant cannot find it in himself to attend the execution. At the time of the execution, he orders his students to kneel at their desks and pray for Jefferson. After the execution is over, Grant finds himself numb, heavyhearted, and crying.
The protagonist and narrator of the novel is an African American school teacher in his twenties. Grant is intelligent and witty, but also a bit hypocritical and depressed. Spending his life in an extremely racist community has made him bitter. He has no faith in himself, society, or his religion-or lack thereof. He does not believe anything will ever change in the south, and that escape is the only option. He fears getting involved in possible lost causes. This attitude makes him demean responsibility, and he is testy against his aunt for forcing him to help Jefferson.
Over the span of the novel, however, he learns to accept responsibility for himself, for his actions towards other people, and for his role as an educator and leader for change in his community. An honest, quiet, young black man of below-average intelligence, Jefferson is a normal citizen of Bayou. When his lawyer calls him a “hog,” Jefferson takes the name to heart and begins to consider himself a lowly barn animal far less than any human being. He becomes withdrawn and sulky, accepting his death sentence and therefore becoming a symbol of his oppressed people.
Ganes, Earnest J. A Lesson Before Dying. New York: Vintage Books 1993. Genre: Novel 256 pages Setting: The story is set in a small Cajun Louisiana town in the 1940's. The setting in this story is significant because, the whole story is about how a young black boy is treated unfairly and sentenced to death because of something he did not do. It also deals with the emotions that this black boy faces ...
Grant tries many times to fix Jefferson’s mental state. He believes that Jefferson can become the positive change the black community needs. One of the many themes in A Lesson Before Dying is redemption of one’s death. With its consistent references to Jesus Christ and his crucifixion, this novel implies that a man’s death can be a meaningful and even uplifting to a struggling community. Jefferson has had a quiet life, working as a plantation worker for years and never misbehaving. When convicted for a crime he did not commit, Jefferson is acting like the animal the whites think him.
However, his death sentence liberates him, and he finds the strength of the Lord. By the end of the novel, Jefferson understands that by dying like a man, he is more of a man than any of the white men who wrongfully convicted him of murder. He knows that by refusing to surrender his morality in his final moments, he will uplift his community. For these reasons, he walks to his execution with his head up, and witnesses say he is the strongest man in the room. A Lesson Before Dying is a very inspiring novel for many young people on how their lives and the way they carry themselves affects their community.
Gaines used commonly spoken southern dialogue in his novel to portray the characters in a very life-like and historical sense. Although the general aspect of the theme was well played throughout the whole story, Gaines’ pacing was entirely too slow for my taste. It seemed like the first fifteen chapters where very repetitive. Grant basically is arguing every chapter with Tante Lou about seeing Jefferson. The book could’ve been reduced in chapter size significantly. Once Grant started going to see Jefferson, however, the plot and action in the story started rolling.
... Jefferson's grandmother, who raised him and wants Grant to teach him to walk like a man before he is put to death. Tante Lou, Grant's ... not want to watch Jefferson die. Paul tells Grant that Jefferson was the strongest man in the room. Grant, crying, goes back into ... J. Title: A Lesson Before Dying, New York, Vintage Contemporaries, 1993. Scene: A small Cajun community outside of Bayonne Louisiana one ...