A Lesson before Dying Essay

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In the following review of A Lesson Before Dying, Senna emphasizes Gaines's ability to evoke the social climate of the South in the 1940s and its foreshadowing of the 1960s Civil Rights movement.

Near the end of Ernest J. Gaines's novel

A Lesson Before Dying, set in the fictional town of Bayonne, Louisiana, in 1948, a white sheriff tells a condemned black man to write in his diary that he has been fairly treated. Although the prisoner assents, nothing could be farther from the truth in that squalid segregated jail, which is an extension of the oppressive Jim Crow world outside.

A black primary school teacher, Grant Wiggins, narrates the story of Jefferson, the prisoner, whose resignation to his execution lends credence to the lesson of Grant's own teacher, Matthew Antoine: the system of Jim Crow will break down educated men like Grant and prisoners like Jefferson to "the...

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This section contains 687 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the A Lesson before Dying Study Guide
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