Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Tolog Review: A Lesson Before Dying

A Lesson Before Dying 
by Ernest Gaines
reviewed by Lauren Gmelich

Ernest Gaines’s novel A Lesson Before Dying is a very touching and moving story about one man’s courage to help his friend understand his importance and innocence in an unjust trial. The story is set in a small town in Bayonne, Louisiana. Throughout the first few pages, Gaines shows that all of his characters value community and tight-knit families. Since this is set in the 1940s, there really was no other way to talk or hear the news, so everyone was very close. Gaines introduces the main character, Grant, who is a teacher and acts as a saint and very polite person, but as you read on you soon realize that at some points he can also be bitter and closed-off. The novel is told through Grant’s perspective and starts with the story of an African American boy, Jefferson, who is convicted of murder. It is learned that it was just a case of being in a bad situation at the wrong time. Jefferson is held in a white-dominated court and is sentenced to death by the electric chair. A very critical and important part of this story is the point where the attorney calls Jefferson a hog. Since hearing those words, Jefferson was never the same. Miss Emma, Jefferson’s mom, has now sent Grant on a mission to visit Jefferson in jail and make him believe he isn’t hog and that he is better than what the white males stated at the trial. This whole novel is based on Grant’s attempts to help Jefferson and make him a man before he dies. In the first few chapters or so, it is found out that Grant has a love interest, Vivian. He admires her and she gives him refreshing opinions and points about Jefferson’s situation. Although this is a fiction book, Gaines addresses unjust topics and shows true problems and struggles this world faces. Even though this book was set in the1940s, many of the actions and prejudice still happen today. Through the sense of a small African American community and white-dominated courts, one man finds himself and what he is sent to do. This book is a classic fiction that is written with such emotion and empowerment. It is truly a touching and emotive tale.I hope you dive deep into this story and see the prevalence it has today.

No comments:

Post a Comment