The novel “A Lesson before dying.” By, Ernest J. Gaines, takes place in rural Louisiana in the 1940’s during the segregation period between blacks and whites. Jefferson, a young black man is involved in a liquor store shooting with two other accomplices which along with the store owner are shot and killed. Although he is not involved in the shooting, he is falsely convicted of the crime and sentenced to death.
The protagonist Jefferson is on his way to go hunting when hie happens to run into one of his brothers friends, along with a friend named bear. Together they all end up at the local liquor store in town. The community of this Southern town is small and everyone knows one another. Not having enough money for the liquer, a common trip, now turns into a robbery. In the mist of all the chaos, they all get shot and killed except Jefferson. Noticing the money in the cash register, he foolishly takes it and gets caught red handed leaving the store. He is charged for this crime and convicted to death by execution. During his trial, the public defender is argueing to the jury of 12, that a black man is no more capable than a hog to plan out this crime. The Jury of 12 white men disagree and sentence Jefferson to death. “Gentlemen of the jury, be merciful. Or God’s sake , be merciful. He is innocent of all charges brought against him” [Don’t sentence him to death] (Gaines 8). Days later Grant Wiggins a plantation schoolteacher looking to change the racism in the South, comes home to find his aunt and Miss Emma, who is Jeffersons Godmother waiting for him.