Fiche de lecture anglais : a lesson before dying by ernest j.gaines

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This book , « a lesson before dying » was written by Ernest J.Gaines . Gaines was born on a plantation in Pointe Coupee Parish, Lousiana, which is the Bayonne of all his fictional works. He is considered as one of the major « authors of the south ». He wrote his book « A lesson before dying » in 1993, telling the story of a black man, Jefferson, sentenced to death for a murder he did not commit, but the story is not about how he could prove that he is innocent but about how he could die as a man and not as a hog as his lawyer said during his trial. Grant, a teacher, will try to teach him what a man is and all along the story they will became friends.The scene takes place in Louisiana in the late 40's. LIRE !!!! This texte is an extract of « A lesson before dying » We've just heard 3 different versions of the events that led to the murder of Alcee gropé and for which Jeff is being tried ( the narrator's , the prosecutor's and the defense attorney's). We don't hear the story from Jefferson ; like most blacks of the time he is not given a voice ( he is thus deprived of a way to express his humanity). While the climax appears to be the jury's verdict, for Miss emma ( Jeff's godmother ) the defining moment is the reference to Jeff as a « hog ». The main themes in this extract are justice and injustice , racism , the concept of manhood and the perverted society. Those themes are enhanced thanks to different motives such as racist , degrading language that goes along with the peculiar institution of slavery and then with that of segregation but also thanks to repetitions and questions. We can consider the word « Hog » as the key word in that text. So what is stake in this text is the perversion of language. It clearly appears that the language of race, end even racism, is instilled in every nook and cranny. This perversion reflects that of the American society of the time and sets the tone for the whole novel; By calling Jeff a hog, the defence attorney is

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