A Lesson Before Dying Journal

Topics: White people, Black people, Race and Ethnicity Pages: 5 (1912 words) Published: March 5, 2013
A Lesson Before Dying Journals
Gains, Ernest. A Lesson Before Dying. New York. Vintage Contemporaries, 1993. Government:
“Twelve white men say a black man must die, and another white man sets the date and time without consulting one black person. Justice?” (Gains 157).

Gains shows the reader how corrupt the justice system is in this quote. Gains character, Grant, isn’t happy about how the system works. He tells the reader how white men do everything in the government, they make up the jury and have a say but not a single colored man has a say in the government or the fate of another colored man. Gains stresses the point of the corrupt government due to racial inequalities.

“A statue of a Confederate soldier stood to the right of the walk that led up to the courthouse door. Above the head of the statue, national, state, and confederate flags flew on long metal poles” (Gains 69).

Gains depict the corrupt government by showing the courthouse. Standing in front is the statue of the Confederate soldier. The courthouse is supposed to be a place of equality but it shows the south still approves of slaves and segregation. It frustrates the colored community to know they are downgraded by their color. The courthouse is an example of the separation of the government. “ ‘Gentlemen of the jury, be merciful. For God’s sake, be merciful. He is innocent of all charges brought against him’” (Gains 8). Gains illustrates how the government and justice system is corrupt when an innocent man is sentenced to death for no reason. Jefferson never killed anyone but was killed by cruel words, humiliation, and misjudgment. But the fact is even though he didn’t have a thing to do with it a white man was killed so they must end a black man’s life. Gains frustration becomes evident through Grant when he explains how it’s an all white jury and a white judge and a white man who sets the date, and not a single colored person is involved when a black man is being convicted.

“‘Why that date?’. . . ‘Easter’ he said [. . .] ‘Friday, April eighth, between noon and three. . .’” (Gains 156). Gains makes a relation to Jefferson’s execution date and Jesus’s. They plan it after Easter because the people of the church might get upset with them if they have it during Easter. They symbolize each other because when Jesus died not only at a similar time, but as an innocent man. Jefferson is an innocent man that is killed by misjudgment just like Jesus. “‘And what do you suggest, Rev. Ambrose?’ I asked. ‘God,’. . . ‘He needs God in that cell, not that sin box.’ ‘What sin box?’ I said. ‘What do you call that kind of music he listen to?’” (Gains 181). Reverend Ambrose and Grant disagree the whole book about religious issues and when Grant gives Jefferson the radio the Rev. doesn’t agree and argues with Grant about it. The Rev. calls it a “sin box” because everyone listened to gospel till the radio came around and now they listen to a wider variety than just gospel. Jefferson listens to a wide variety of music and it angers the Rev. because he believes Jefferson needs God more than anything else but Jefferson has no interest just like a growing number of people in this time. “No matter how educated a man was (he meant me, though he didn’t call my name), he, too, was locked in the cold, dark cell of ignorance if he did not know God in the pardon of his sins. . . My aunt said ‘Amen’ louder than anyone, and she was looking directly at me” (Gains 146). Gains elaborates on the fact that not everyone shares the same faith or perspective on religion. Rev. doesn’t like it that Grant doesn’t believe in God anymore. He calls him out on it all the time and his aunt does the same. Gains shows how everyone doesn’t share the same faith. Economics:

“. . . the outside toilet. This toilet was for colored people who came to the courthouse, and it was down in the basement. You entered it from the courthouse parking lot . . . it was always filthy… The...
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