Ernest Gaines: A Lesson before Dying

(1487 words)

Ernest Gaines's novel A Lesson before Dying was published in 1993 but gained best-seller statute when Oprah Winfrey named it as her Book Club selection in September 1997. Set in the 1940's in the small Southern town of Bayonne, Louisiana, the novel tells the story of a beleaguered school teacher, Grant Wiggins, who has returned from college to serve a “plantation” school in his home town. His goal as an educator is to motivate his African American charges to become both literate and self-confident members of their community. As the novel begins, however, Wiggins is clearly despondent about his potential to attain this goal, especially given the prejudice of the local school administrators who feel that minority schools …

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Meyer, Michael J.. "A Lesson before Dying". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 03 November 2008
[, accessed 27 November 2015.]