A Lesson Before Dying
by Ernest J. Gaines

The Book takes Place Here

Bykerk, Ryan. A Lesson Before Dying. 2003. The Official Student Newspaper of Calvin College, Grand Rapids.

You have just been convicted of murder. You and your family both know you are not guilty but there is no way the jury is going to be reassured by your proposed innocence, especially when you are a black man in Louisiana in the 1940's. Now sent away to prison to rot for the remainder of your life it is up to you to choose how you want to die. Not the cause of death, (that has already been chosen) but how you will approach this inevitable fatality. Your choices include dying as a man to show strength and dignity for your loved ones, or as a hog, the creature that you are perceived as by all the white folk that sent you to this destination. When given the "freedom" to decide whichever path you'd like to pursue, it is remarkable how far courage, perseverance and passion can take you.

“I tried to decide just how I should respond to them. Whether I should act like the teacher that I was, or like the nigger that I was supposed to be.”

Tyson, Cicely, and Don Cheadle. A Lesson Before Dying. 1999. TV SpielFilm.

This is what I thought about the book!

            Out of all the AP books I have read this year it took the last marking period to finally find one I would read more than once. I guess it was better late than never. I found A Lesson Before Dying to be a very quick read and easy to understand compared to other choices on the AP list. However, it still managed to make me think deeper and wider about life, death, and all that in between. The message that Gaines delivers to his audience should speak volumes to any type of person which is why I highly recommend this book to every incoming sophomore and for that matter any high school or college student.


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