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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.
Gaines's NBCC Award-winning novel tells of the relationship forged between a young black man on death row and his teacher in 1940s Louisiana.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
This book was one of the books the advanced students read at my high school. I remember seeing them carry their books around the halls and remember being intrigued by the paperback... Read morePublished 10 days ago by Fatimat A.
An awesome and intriguing read! I couldn't put it down! This book reminds you to live life to the fullest with God being 1st.Published 12 days ago by E. M. Wilson
Great and very easy to read and short, but inspirational. I loved the ending and i cried, but then again I'm a softy.Published 15 days ago by vivian777
I read this book as a school assignment. I thought I would be bored out of my mind reading this book. I was for a while, but eventually I became engrossed in the story. Read morePublished 21 days ago by alison lane
Given the plot synopsis, A Lesson Before Dying could very easily veer into cheesiness or make it all seem so easy. Read morePublished 26 days ago by Sara Guilliam
Wonderfully pristine writing. Clearly drawn sympathetic characters. Reading these Ernest J. Gaines books helps construct an insightful background for any national debate on race.Published 28 days ago by David P