A Lesson Before Dying Essay

In his diary entries, the reader also learns that he is far more introspective, articulate, and aware than had been previously suggested.The novel ends with Grant in his schoolroom, his students all kneeling in prayer at the moment Jefferson is to be executed.

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The DA further suggested that Jefferson was little better than a hog and, in fact, executing him would be akin to executing a hog.

A white jury quickly found Jefferson guilty and he was sentenced to death.

Terrified and overwhelmed, Jefferson tried to calm himself down by drinking a little of the store’s whiskey and then, realizing he would have to flee, took some money from an open cash register even though he recognized this was morally wrong.

Two white men then discovered him trying to leave the store and he was arrested.

Building up Jefferson’s dignity would require dismantling a lifetime of systematic racism that has shaped the man’s character.

Despite his reservations, Tante Lou persuades Grant to help Miss Emma and they are eventually given permission to visit Jefferson in prison.Their relationship continues to grow and strengthen, especially when Grant gives Jefferson a radio to distract him and then a notebook in which to record his thoughts.When Grant visits him after this, he discovers that Jefferson has used the notebook to record his explanation of how men are different from hogs.Through this increasingly strong connection, Grant is able to explain to Jefferson how significant his death will be for the whole Black community.He explains that when his defense attorney compared him to a hog, he insulted all Black people, drawing on a long history of white supremacist lies and propaganda.He even initiates a conversation with Grant about his predicament and treatment.Jefferson also opens up to Grant when asked about his last meal, admitting that he wants a gallon of ice cream because he has only ever been allowed tiny amounts.The story takes place in the fictional town of Bayonne, Louisiana, and is narrated by Grant Wiggins, a Black teacher from the local plantation school.It begins with Grant describing the trial of Jefferson, a simple, uneducated 21-year-old Black man wrongly charged with murdering a white store owner.Perhaps the aspect of most commonly commended is the insight it offers readers into life under Jim Crow racial laws.Within this, critics often point to its centering of Black experiences and its recognition of the importance of community and cooperation to many Black Americans, both past and present.


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