"A Lesson Before Dying" By Ernest J. Gaines Speech

939 words - 4 pages

First and foremost, I will familiarize you with the characters in the novel:- Jefferson, a twenty-one-year-old uneducated black field worker condemned to die after being innocently involved in an armed robbery and shooting.- Alcee Grope, the white storekeeper killed during the attempted robbery.- Brother and Bear, two young black men killed while attempting to rob Alcee Grope's store- Miss Emma, Jefferson's godmother, she is determined that Jefferson will die with dignity- Grant Wiggins, the narrator. A cynical disillusioned teacher called upon to instill a sense ofpride and self-worth in Jefferson before his execution- Tante Lou, Grant's aunt and Miss Emma's best friend- Vivian Baptiste, Grant Wiggin's girlfriend- Henri Pichot, the owner of the plantation that once employed Miss Emma and Tante Lou ascook and housekeeper- Sam Guidry, sheriff of Bayonne County; Henri Pichot's brother-in-law, white authoritarianIn late 1940's Grant Wiggins has been teaching on a plantation outside Bayonne, Louisiana, for several years when a slow-witted man named Jefferson is convicted of murder and sentenced to death. Jefferson claims he is innocent of the crime. He says he just asked a ride from his two friends, Brother and Bear, who happened to be on their way to the liquor store. Upon arriving there, the two men started arguing with the Alcee Grope, the white storekeeper and the shoot out ensued. The storeowner and the two men died, and Jefferson shocked and nervous didn't know what to do. He is thirsty so he took a drink from the nearest bottle and since he has no money decided to take some from the cash register. Bottle on one hand and money on the other, this is how he was found by the white people who are just entering the store. He was arrested and tried for murder. Jefferson's lawyer argues in court that Jefferson is nothing but a poor fool, hardly more worthwhile than a hog and therefore incapable of plotting such a scheme. The jury quickly brings back a guilty verdict.Upon hearing the lawyer's speech, Jefferson's godmother, Miss Emma, resolves to help Jefferson die like a man, not a hog. She asks Grant to help her, knowing that he will resist. Grant left many years to attend college, and he returned an educated man. He deplores the injustices done to his fellow black men, but he does not want to get involved in Jefferson's case. However, after considerable pressure from his aunt, Tante Lou, and later on followed by girlfriend, Vivian, he agrees to try to help.In order to be able to visit Jefferson in the jail they have to ask help from Henri Pichot the brother-in-law of Sheriff Sam Guirdy, that Miss Emma and Tante Lou once worked for.Grant and Miss Emma visited Jefferson in his cell and...

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