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Word Count: 467
A young black man is soon to be put in the electric chair but the fact that he is innocent is not important in Gaines A Lesson Before Dying The question is will he face death like a man or like a dumb animal a hog as his defense attorney carelessly characterized himThe story takes place in a small Louisiana town during the 1940s when all-white male juries commonly found accused black men guilty until proven innocent In this case some prominent white men in the town wanted to bet on how the young black man would face execution After all Jefferson who was convicted of murdering a white man had no family or close relatives just a godmother who loved the boy but hadnt raised him to die in the electric chairThe narrator of the story is Grant a young man who lives and teaches school in the black quarter of a large plantation He is not related to Jefferson but his aunt and Miss Emma the godmother want Grant to convince Jefferson that he must take death as a manGrant has problems of his own He wants to marry Vivian but her divorce is still pending Except for being closer to her he regrets that he returned to his hometown to teach He also does not like living with his aunt especially now since she and Miss Emma expect him to counsel Jefferson for them Worse than that Reverend Ambrose wants Grant to reassure the deathrow prisoner about Heaven something Grant is no longer able to believe inGrant bitterly explains to Vivian that We black men have failed to protect our women since the time of slavery Perhaps thats why Miss Emma hopes that on that last day Jefferson did not crawl to that white man the executioner but he stood and walkedGaines portrayal of a near-illiterate black inmate facing the electric chair is excellent The diary he scribbles out in his
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