First Formal Essay a Lesson Before Dying

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First formal Essay A Lesson Before Dying Harper 1

Kerstin Harper
English 3 Honors

Most of today’s research consists of surfing through the web and, copy and paste. Although in Ernest J. Gaines case, author of a lesson before dying, he actually gathers research and actual evidence himself. Research is an attempt to find out, while evidence is proof of what actually happened. The research and evidence that Gaines collected were crucial to the story and without could have changed the outcome of the book. Many statements could have been false if Gaines didn’t conduct his research. Research and evidence are two vital aspects of literature that shaped A Lesson Before Dying into the piece it is.

Earnest J. Gaines intensely gathered information through out the entire process of writing A Lesson Before Dying. He read articles about older executions, talked to his students about there cases, interviewed a sheriff, and even had pictures of the electric chair posted in front of him while he was writing. “I want to discover, as you, the reader, wish to discover, what it’s all about.” (Gaines, “Writing” 777) This statement by Gaines proves when he doesn’t know, he dares to figure out. He has a lot of motive behind his writing and from the beginning he doesn’t know what exactly is going to be put into the book nor does he know how he is going to figure the information out. Gaines as a writer goes the extra mile and displays true factual information in a fictional book.

With Gaines background of growing up on a plantation in Louisiana he already knew certain important facts that contributed to the book. He already had a complete feel of the place and region since he lived there the first fifteen years of his life. “I could use Harper 2

church school for background, the church where generations of my folks had worshiped and where I had attended school my first six years.” (Gaines,...
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