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A Lesson Before Dying

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angela chang

on 13 January 2015

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Transcript of A Lesson Before Dying

Published: January 1, 1993
Fiction; historical fiction; social commentary.
A Lesson Before Dying
Plot Summary.
Biographical Information
By: Angela Chang, Ale Ramirez, Laura Herrera,and Britney DeGraff
A Lesson Before Dying
Setting & Significance
Opening Scene Significance
Ending Significance
Literary Devices
Possible Themes
The Author's Style
In a Lesson Before Dying the author's style of writing helps make the boundaries clear between white people and black people. He makes it so that the people who are uneducated sound uneducated. For example when Jefferson is speaking he says things like "got no" or phrases like "I want a whole gallona ice cream." It also shows in Jefferson's writing.
An example of his writing style is an excerpt from Jefferson's journal: "dont kno if you can red this mr wigin my han shakin and i can yer my hart... good by mr wigin tell them im strong tell them im a man good by mr wigin im gon ex paul if he can bring you this sincely jefferson".

Through this Gaines shows that the uneducated can possess intelligence and nobility. Grammatical errors and misspellings riddle Jeffersons diary, but they do nothing to detract from the sophistication, sadness, and bravery of his thoughts.

Significant Quotes
1. "He was the strongest man in the crowded room Grant Wiggins." Pg. 253
-- This shows that Jefferson had become a man and that he had not faced the chair as a worthless hog.
2. "What justice would there be to take his life? Justice, gentlemen? Why, I would just a soon put a hog in the electric chair." Pg. 8
4. "we're teachers, and we have a commitment." "Commitment to what-to live and die in this hellhole, when we can leave and live like other people." Pg. 29
--Expresses Grants desire to run away. This is when he questions if his life actually makes a difference.
5. "You'll see that it'll take more than five and a half months to wipe away peel; scrape away the blanket of ignorance that has been plastered and re-plastered over those brains the past three hundred years. You'll see" Pg. 64
--This quote is spoken by Grant's mentor who believes that nothing he taught would ever make a difference.
6. " I want you to show them the difference between what they think you are and what you can be." Pg. 191
-- This is important because ,in this book, many white people think they know everything because they are white but this quote shows that they don't know anything about other people and who they can be.
7. "I teach because it is the only thing that an educated black mand can do in the south today. I don't like it I hated it. I don't even like living here. I want to run away. I want to live for myself and for my woman and for nobody else." Pg. 191
-- This quote shows the desires of Grant's heart. He thinks that all he is good for is teaching because he is educated and he believes that white me have control over his actions.
8. " A hero does for others. He would do anything for people he loves, because he knows it would make their lives better. I am not that kind of person, but I want you to be. You could give something to her to me, to those children in the quarter. You could give them something I never could..." Pg. 191
-- People have faith in Jefferson and that faith is able to give him purpose to his short life. Others depend on him to be strong.
9. “You think you the only one ever felt this way? You think I never felt this way? You think she never felt this way? Every last one of them back there one time in they life wanted to give up. She want to give up now. You know that?” Pg. 216
-- This is when Grant realized that he is not the only one who wants to escape responsibility and just give up. But, because of his responsibility people are counting on him.
10. “good by mr wigin tell them im strong tell them im a man good by mr wigin im gon ax paul if he can bring you this" Pg. 234
-- Jefferson rights his final goodbyes to Mr. Wiggins and he lets him know that Mr. Wiggins has helped him become a man. In knowing this Grant know that his teacher was wrong and he can make a difference.
By: Earnest J.
Significant Characters
Grant Wiggins
Role in the story:
Protagonist of the novel
Grant's role in this story is to help
Jefferson realize he's worth it and
that he is not a ¨hog¨. Being one
of the few educated black men
he's expected to help out his community.
He feels helpless
Role in the story:
The novel centers around him and his unfair murder accusation.
When his lawyer calls him a ¨hog¨ he takes it to heart, and starts believing he actually is one. He becomes sullen and withdrawn, accepting a living death causing him to become a dark symbol of his oppressed people.
Young black man
Bellow-average intelligence
Tante Lou
Role in story:
She's Grant's aunt
She doesn't like Grant not believing in God, she feels it reflects badly on the way she raised him. Tante Lou took Grant when he was little and his parents moved away and was basically a mother figure for him.
African American woman
in her 70s
Miss Emma
Role in story:
Jefferson's godmother
She becomes obsessed with ensuring that Jefferson ¨dies like a man¨ after hearing Jefferson's lawyer call him a ¨hog¨.
Cares for her family & community
Out spoken
Role in story:
Grant's girlfriend; has two kids and married in the process of divorcing
She's a teacher at the catholic school in Bayonne for blacks. Vivian hides her relationship with Grant for fear that her husband will use that against her and take her children away.
Reverend Ambrose
Role in the story:
Leader of the black quarter's religious community. (Grant's primary foil in the novel)
He thinks Grant is foolish for forsaking his religion and that Grant will have a bad sinful influence on Jefferson. He reveals his belief that lying is a necessary component of survival especially for Southern blacks struggling to live.
Most of the story takes place during the 1940’s in Louisiana, during the Jim Crow day's back when the South was segregated between blacks and whites.
Due to the segregation of black workers, they all had a school and a church completely separate from the white population.
Because of the laws and segregation its more like a rebellion and a survival life.
The significance of the opening scene is to show how effective the Jim Crow laws were, by accusing Jefferson for robbery and murder with the insult that because he is black he is simply an animal. The opening scene show how blacks were treated differently due to their skin color.
The significance of the ending was to show that Jeffersons death will not go without noticed, Jefferson was an innocent man who was accused of murder although he didn't. This was how the 1940's treated people. The significance is to show that the most important part of this story is the friendship between Jefferson and Grant.
It would be cruel to kill a man no more intelligent or moral than a hog (The lawyer is implying that blacks arent as smart as animals)8
Good by mr Wiggin tell them im strong tell them i'm a man (the last words Jefferson spoke)12
I want a man to go to that chair, on his own two feet. (saying the Jefferson is so dumb he can't even walk right)12
Irene cole told the class to rise with their shoulders back (he wanted the young kids to keep their heads up)256
No I didnt go to the trial, I didnt hear the verdict because i knew what it would be (He already knew what outcome was gonna be)3
Die with dignity
Stand up for what is right.
Don't let anyone tell you you're less than anything.
Always lend a helping hand to others.
Never lose faith.
Gaines was an African American Author. He was born on January 15, 1933, during the Great Depression in Louisiana. He was the oldest of 12 and was raised by his aunt who gave him inspiration. At the age of 15, he went to work in Vallejo, California with his mother and stepfather. To keep him off the streets, he read books. Not finding much African American writers, he decided to start writing his own literature. After serving the U.S. Army, he enrolled to San Francisco State University where he wrote short stories that won him admission to the selective graduate program in creative writing at Stanford University.
Grant is a teacher who teaches at a plantation outside of a town named Bayonne. A man named Jefferson is convicted for murder and is sentenced to death. Jefferson's godmother, Miss Emma, wants Grant to go visit Jefferson because he is starting to believe that he is a hog and she wants him to have some dignity before he gets executed. After a few weeks of spending time with Jefferson, the governor of Louisiana sets the execution date. Jefferson finally realizes that his death wont be just any kind of death. But when the day finally comes, Grant can't go to the execution, because he got close with Jefferson.
Characteristics of the genre
Characters are ordinary real people who did or could have lived in the historical setting.
Characters are usually shaped by the setting
Characters usually change as a result of the problem and must to be able to resolve it.
Place is a particular historical goegraphical location.
Time is a particular historical period.
Historical information about the period of publication.
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Martin Luther King Jr. holiday observed in all 50 states.
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