A Lesson Before Dying

A Lesson Before Dying

Book - 1993
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Publisher: New York : A. A. Knopf, 1993
ISBN: 9780679414773
Branch Call Number: F GAINE-E
Characteristics: 256 p. ; 23 cm


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IndyPL_RyanD Apr 03, 2019

I enjoyed reading this book by Ernest Gaines because I felt this fictional story gave an accurate portrayal of the criminal justice system and racism against African Americans in the United States during the late 1940s. I found the story compelling, and I enjoyed reading about the hardships and friendships the character Grant Wiggins encounters while trying to mentor another character in the book named Jefferson who is wrongly convicted of a crime and sentenced to death.

Oct 08, 2018

For book club on 10/5/2018. Excellent writing, poignant tale of the abusive Southern treatment of blacks in the late 1940s.

May 27, 2018

Set in Louisiana during the late 1940s, an uneducated black man is unfairly convicted of murder and sentenced to death. The local elementary school teacher, the only educated black man in the community, reluctantly agrees to tutor the unfortunate prisoner so that he can approach death with dignity. Gaines emphasizes the racial inequalities in the tiny community, and draws out a powerful theme about how it can be heroic to defy the unfair expectations put upon you by society. The writing is excellent, but I found the book a bit dull because the outcome is entirely predictable.

Jan 30, 2017

A very powerful book regarding African American life in post WW2 US. Thought provoking and informative.

Jul 06, 2016

Absolutely phenomenal and beautiful. I finished this book in two days. Extraordinarily simple but nonetheless a moving story of two men living against expectations who try to meet in the middle.

Jun 05, 2015

This is an 11th grade curriculum choice in Millard Public Schools.

May 09, 2015

Although this fictional book takes place in Pre-Civil Rights age Louisiana, people today will relate to the hardships, conflict and inspiration all of the characters experience. It is no wonder this book was an Oprah Book Club selection in the 1990s. Even more important today than it was years ago due to the mass incarceration of African-American males in the United States.

Jan 08, 2015

A modern classic, Gaines's spare prose details the heartbreaking last months of an uneducated young black man in 1940s rural Louisiana. Charged with awakening the youth's humanity in the days before he faces the electric chair, the local schoolteacher must confront his own weaknesses and failures before he can spark an emotional and intellectual awakening. Gaines confronts challenging issues of what makes us human, and what makes us inhuman.

51anne Feb 09, 2013

I enjoyed the story and the writing style of Mr. Gaines. He was able to make the reader feel the anger and frustration of an educated black man living in America during the 1940's.

Jul 18, 2012

A Lesson Before Dying tells the story of a schoolteacher who is asked to visit a man wrongly accused and sentence to death simply for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. It reveals the strength of character and community, as well as showing what it takes to resist oppression while maintaining your pride.

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May 30, 2019

miashay thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

Jun 05, 2015

ckaldahl thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

Jul 24, 2014

Ferociousdog thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over


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AmandaVollmershausen May 09, 2012

This novel follows the events after a verdict is handed out to an uneducated black man on shoddy evidence and very slim motives. The implication is that the verdict was racist and the rest of the book explores that theme. During his trial, the man, (Jefferson) is compared to a hog. The rest of the novel is about the development of his character as Grant, a cynical black schoolteacher teaches him that he is just as brave and valuable as any of the white folk. The novel is a heartfelt testimony that centres around the hopelessness of unjust discrimination and a person's self worth.


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Jul 24, 2014

"Called him a hog" by Grant's aunt


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