A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines
“’Gentlemen of the jury, be merciful. For God’s sake, be merciful. He in innocent of all charges brought against him.
‘But let us say he was not. Let us for a moment say he was not. What justice would there be to take his this life? Justice, gentleman? Why, I would just as soon put a hog in the electric chair.’” (page 8)
After trying to convince the jury that Jefferson is not clever enough to commit the crime, the defense attorney supposes he is guilty but by comparing Jefferson to a hog, saying that he is not intelligent enough to be held accountable for his actions. This starts a fire under the black people in the town. This leads the blacks to make Jefferson an example of how much dignity, intelligence, and courage they truly had.
“Inez left the kitchen as soon as the soon as the white men came in. I tried to decide just how I should respond to them. Whether I should act like the teacher that I was, or like the nigger that I was supposed to be. I decided to wait and see how the conversation went. To show too much intelligence would have been an insult to them. To show a lack of intelligence would have been a greater insult to me.” (page 47)
Grant knew that the white men would expect him to act unintelligent but he couldn’t allow himself to do that. Instead he keeps quiet and waits to see how the conversation would turn. This effectively shows how the whites wanted the blacks inferior at all times. Even when Grant could show how educated he was, he had to hold his tongue, knowing the whites would be offended.
“I could hear only part of what he was saying, because I could not get that date and time out of my mind. How do people come up with a date and time to take life from another man? Who made them God?” (page 158)
The sheriff told Grant the date and time of Jefferson’s execution and he doesn’t understand how people can just sat a date to take someone’s life. I believe this is