A Lesson Before Dying By Ernest Gaines Essay

1035 Words Jan 12th, 2016 5 Pages
A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest Gaines For my independent reading project, I chose A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines. This novel depicts a dramatic and complex prison experience. The main setting is in a non existent town called Bayonne, Louisiana in the time period prior to Civil Rights for African Americans. The most important scenes occur in the prison. In this time period, the characters face extreme racial discrimination and traps both main characters, Grant Wiggins and Jefferson, in two different types of prisons; Grant’s being mental and Jefferson’s being a legitimate physical prison. The story is told in the view of Grant Wiggins who is an African American teacher at a plantation school. Grant is also one of the protagonists, while the other is Jefferson. The main focus ,however, is on Jefferson, is a twenty one year old,African American, uneducated laborer. The story’s first conflict begins with Jefferson being falsely accused of robbery and murder of a white man and is sentenced to be executed as a punishment for these crimes he did not commit mostly due to his race. Jefferson’s attorney has an extreme racial bias towards him and his only defense for him is to explain he is simply too uneducated to successfully plan out a robbery and murder, truly dehumanizing him. This is shown when the attorney states, “What justice would there be to take this life? Justice, gentlemen? Why, I would just as soon put a hog in the electric chair as this.” (pg.8) The one…

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