October 8, 2013
"A Lesson Before Dying" is a tale that portrays the segregation of southern blacks in the 1940's. Gaines, the author wants to change reader’s perspective on behaving with compassion and taking the moral road when facing adversity. The novel focuses on a black man named Jefferson who is wrongfully accused of murder and sentenced to death. During the trail, the court appointed attorney has the argument that Jefferson is not smart enough to plan such a robbery and murder, and killing him would be equivalent of putting a hog in an electric chair. Unfortunately, the jury consists of "twelve white men" who say that they came to a just verdict. The comment about Jefferson being a hog angers Miss Emma, who is Jefferson’s grandmother. This sparks the main issue of the story: that Jefferson needs to die as a man, not a hog.
Chapter one creates the setting of the novel, which is a Southern town in the 1940's. This chapter also establishes the main conflict of the novel, a black man being wrongly accused of the murder of a white store owner. Miss Emma found it very offensive that they demoralized Jefferson by comparing to a hog... The defense attorney refers to Jefferson as "a boy and a fool" and that he would "just as soon put a hog in the electric chair as this." This deeply offends Miss Emma, and creates an overwhelming conflict of the novel. Miss Emma decides to make sure that Jefferson was not treated like a hog. In the end, Jefferson is found guilty of the charges and is sentenced to death.
Chapter two focuses on Grant Wiggins spending more time with his Aunt and Miss Emma, attempting to become more involved in Jefferson's life. Grant's aunt, Tante Lou encourages him to go see Henri Pichot with her and Miss Emma. Henri Pichot is a wealthy white farm owner, who has the power to allow Grant to visit Jefferson. Miss Emma's only wish is that Jefferson does not die as a "hog" but rather as a "man...