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Lesson 8: A Lesson Before Dying—Chapters 1–16

Lesson 8: A Lesson Before Dying—Chapters 1–16


Published in 1993, Ernest J. Gaines’ A Lesson Before Dying is the most modern of the five novels in this course. Set in Louisiana in the 1940s, the conflicts in A Lesson Before Dying grow out of the injustice done to a young African American man who has been wrongfully convicted of a murder. The novel portrays the challenges of personal change and growth against a backdrop of stubbornness, distrust, and racism.

Chapters 1 through 8 set A Lesson Before Dying in motion. As you read these opening chapters, note the various conflicts that quickly appear (and which will seldom go away). Which conflicts are products of race, and which are products of human beings simply interacting with other human beings?