Staff Favorites: A Lesson Before Dying

A Lesson Before DyingA Lesson Before Dying, Ernest J. Gaines

I recently read A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines.  The author was born to a sharecropper family in Louisiana in 1933, and this book is placed in the same setting.  A young black man, Jefferson, in the wrong place at the wrong time, is accused of a murder he did not commit.  Nevertheless, he is convicted of the crime.  During his trial, his defense attorney asks the jury to look at this man (the defendant) , and consider that even if he did commit the crime, it would have as much meaning as executing a hog.  Jefferson’s godmother is incensed by this comparison, and asks the local school teacher to spend time with the convicted man until his execution, in an attempt to convince him that he is not a hog, he is a man, and should go to his death with his head held high.  In the end, the executed man is the only brave, noble person in the room.  – Christine Kirk, Circulation


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