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A lesson before dying by Ernest J Gaines

A lesson before dying

‘A lesson before dying’ is a story of two African American men – Grant Wiggins and Jefferson, who shares a unique bond with one of them awaiting his death call.

The story starts with the court proceedings against the 21 year old, uneducated Jefferson, who happened to be at a wrong place at a wrong time. Eventually, he is charged with robbery and murder and sentenced to death by electrocution.

Grant Wiggins, a local school teacher is asked by the Grand mother of Jefferson, to meet him in jail in his last few weeks before execution. She wants him to talk to Jefferson and educate him as she wants his to die as a man and not a hog. The lawyer of Jefferson in his defense had argued that he is no less than a hog and stupid enough to plan any killing on his own. Subsequently, even Jefferson starts believing in the words.

The story beautifully deals on Grant Wiggins’s confusion to go into the prison, his initial hesitations, his reluctance to go far, leaving his girlfriend Vivian. Vivian supports her every time, and became the only reason that he goes to see Jefferson.

The story also brilliantly portrays the differences in the lives of colored people and white people and discrimination in the society.

The story is exceptionally good, and will captivate you from the very first page. I liked the characterization of ‘Grant Wiggins’, especially Wiggins’s thoughts and his moral values. In fact, he has become one of my best characters that I have read about.

I started this book, as it is recommended by ‘Book Oprah Club’, and I didn’t regret my decision at all. This book is on the genre of the books like ‘To kill a mocking bird’, and will be read and liked by people for a long time to come. Though the story is set in 1940’s the insight of the story is evergreen and holds true even in the current times.

This book review is written & submitted by Chetan maheshwari. Chetan is an avid book reader and a follower of GingerChai.

0 06 September, 2009 Books September 6, 2009

4 comments

  1. Chetan

    I am sorry for replying so late,

    @Bharathi
    hi, i am happy that you liked the post,
    more i can tell you is that Jefferson was a naive, and was called a hog during the court proceedings, by his own lawyer, so as to gain some mercy from the judge, but that didn’t happen.
    and He(jefferson) started thinking that he is really a hog, then comes Grant Wiggins in picture, who made him realize before his electrocution that he is a man and not a hog

    @mani padma
    I am sure you will like the book,
    looking forward to your review of ‘New moon’, as i left reading it after some pages

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