The Grove of Ernest J. Gaines' Writing

Topics: A Lesson Before Dying, Black people, Ernest J. Gaines Pages: 4 (1157 words) Published: September 24, 2014
The Grove of Ernest J. Gaines' Writing

The novel, A Lesson before Dying, was written by Ernest J. Gaines in 1993. Gaines was born on the River Lake plantation in Louisiana, where he was raised by his aunt, Miss Augusteen Jefferson. Racism was prevalent shown by the whites-only libraries in Louisiana. After 15 years of living in Louisiana, Gaines moved to California, although he states Louisiana never left him. California had libraries available for the blacks also. In California, he lived with his mother and which inspired him to the point of writing about six novels and scores of short stories. In 1953, Gaines was drafted into the Army, and he later went on to study creative writing at Stanford University. While in the library, Gaines was influenced to write from the books he did not see on the shelf such as books about African Americans and the racism towards them. A Lesson before Dying began to form in Gaines' mind after the continuous executions of the blacks. After Gaines published A Lesson before Dying, Oprah Winfrey selected the book to be a part of her book club, and was awarded the National Critics Award. Gaines was also awarded the MacArthur Award the same year. In this novel, Ernest J. Gaines portrays attitude, personality, and character through the use of literary devices.

First of all, Ernest J. Gaines exemplifies attitude by using literary devices such as hyperboles and verbal irony. During an interview, Gaines stated that there were not many writers of his own culture and background (Bridges n.p.). Gaines did not enjoy the books, as they did not have the cultural integrity as he would have liked to see. Throughout A Lesson before Dying, Gaines shows the attitude of the characters to portray the cultural variations seen throughout society. Gaines depicts Grant Wiggins as an educated school teacher that does not like his own culture. Grant wants to run away from his current being; however his culture and race will always be the same. Tante Lou...


Cited: Bridges, Lawrence. "A Conversation with Ernest J. Gaines." Youtube. Youtube, 10 July 2009. Web. 4 March 2014.
DiConsiglio, John. "Meet the Author: Ernest Gaines." Literary Calvacade. Nov./Dec. 1998. 29.
Gaines, Ernest J. A Lesson before Dying. New York: Random House, 1993.
Seelye, Katharine. "Writer Tends Land Where Ancestors Were Slaves." The New York Times. 20 Oct. 2010. Web. 28 Feb. 2014.
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