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A L ESSON B EFORE D YING BY E RNEST J. G AINES An Introduction © 2010 L.J. Perales www.apeng3.comwww.apeng3.com.

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Presentation on theme: "A L ESSON B EFORE D YING BY E RNEST J. G AINES An Introduction © 2010 L.J. Perales www.apeng3.comwww.apeng3.com."— Presentation transcript:

1 A L ESSON B EFORE D YING BY E RNEST J. G AINES An Introduction © 2010 L.J. Perales

2 T HE A UTHOR : E RNEST J. G AINES He was born on a Louisiana plantation in 1933 during the Great Depression He was raised by his courageous Aunt Jefferson, perhaps the reason the hero of the novel carries the same surname. At fifteen, his family moved to Vallejo, California where he discovered the public library, inspiring his love for literature and later indulgence in writing. Many of his stories are based on memories from his own childhood. Gaines worked in the fields digging potatoes just like the schoolchildren in this novel.

3 L ITERARY AND H ISTORICAL B ACKGROUND Published in 1993; winner of the 1993 National Book critics Circle Award for Fiction and the 1994 YALSA Best Bok for Young Adults awards. A Lesson Before Dying connects directly with the Civil Rights Movement in the Postwar Era, the perfect context for a contemporary novel. The series of laws that create the segregated society in the novel represent real circumstances. Following the Civil War, the Jim Crow laws were passed, a series of laws which legalized the separation of whites and blacks. Plessy vs. Ferguson in 1896 determined that separate facilities for blacks and whites was acceptable, introducing the term separate but equal.

4 A B RIEF I NTRODUCTION The setting is the 1940s in a small Cajun community in Louisiana, not dissimilar from Gaines own upbringing. Two men, Jefferson and Grant, are brought together through twisting life circumstances. As they develop a friendship, they learn lessons over time that demonstrate many themes of the novel. Jefferson is a young African American wrongly convicted of murder, now on death-row. Grant, the narrator, is an African American man who returns to teach in the tiny Cajun town after leaving to attend college. The characters are realistic and represent recurrent themes in American literature. A somber mood is maintained through self-pitying central characters, continually pulling down those around them.

5 M AJOR T HEMES E XPLORED Racism Obligation Redemption Heroes Freedom as a State of Mind

6 T HE C ENTRAL C ONFLICT Fatalism vs. Individualism: the debate over Jefferson involves whether people can change their own nature and by doing so effect their own environment. Protagonist - The individualist faction, which included Vivian, Tante Lou, Reverend Ambrose, believed that a man is capable of determining his own destiny. Antagonist - The fatalist faction, which included Sheriff Guidry, Henri Pichot, and Mathew Antoine, believed that race determines your fate. Outcome - By the time Jeffersons hits the climax in the novel, he understands his own importance as a symbol of pride and dignity for the entire black community.

7 Q UOTATIONS … I w a s n o t t h e r e, y e t I w a s t h e r e. ( f i r s t s e n t e n c e ) I s u p p o s e e v e r y m a n w o n d e r s a b o u t d e a t h s o m e t i m e s i n h i s l i f e. ( p ) W e b l a c k m e n … s t a y h e r e i n t h e S o u t h a n d a r e b r o k e n, o r w e r u n a w a y a n d l e a v e t h e m a l o n e t o l o o k a f t e r t h e c h i l d r e n a n d t h e m s e l v e s. S o e a c h t i m e a m a l e c h i l d i s b o r n, t h e y h o p e h e w i l l b e t h e o n e t o c h a n g e t h i s v i c i o u s c i r c l e w h i c h h e n e v e r d o e s. B e c a u s e e v e n t h o u g h h e w a n t s t o c h a n g e i t, a n d m a y b e e v e n t r i e s t o c h a n g e, i t, i t i s t o o h e a v y a b u r d e n b e c a u s e o f a l l t h e o t h e r s w h o h a v e r u n a w a y a n d l e f t t h e i r b u r d e n s b e h i n d … I c a n g i v e t h e m s o m e t h i n g t h a t n e i t h e r a h u s b a n d, a f a t h e r, n o r a g r a n d f a t h e r e v e r d i d, s o t h e y w a n t t o h o l d o n a s l o n g a s t h e y c a n. N o t r e a l i z i n g t h a t t h e i r h o l d i n g o n w i l l b r e a k m e t o o. ( p p ) A h e r o d o e s f o r o t h e r s. H e w o u l d d o a n y t h i n g f o r p e o p l e h e l o v e s, b e c a u s e h e k n o w s i t w o u l d m a k e t h e i r l i v e s b e t t e r. ( p )

8 Q UOTATIONS … I n e e d y o u m u c h m o r e t h a n y o u c o u l d e v e r n e e d m e. I n e e d t o k n o w w h a t t o d o w i t h m y l i f e. I w a n t t o r u n a w a y, b u t g o w h e r e a n d d o w h a t ? I m n e e d e d h e r a n d I k n o w i t, b u t I f e e l t h a t a l l I m d o i n g h e r e i s c h o k i n g m y s e l f. I n e e d s o m e o n e t o t e l l m e w h a t t o d o. I n e e d y o u t o t e l l m e, t o s h o w m e. I m n o h e r o ; I c a n j u s t g i v e s o m e t h i n g s m a l l. T h a t s a l l I h a v e t o o f f e r. I t i s t h e o n l y w a y t h a t w e c a n c h i p a w a y a t t h a t m y t h. Y o u – y o u c a n b e b i g g e r t h a n a n y o n e y o u h a v e e v e r m e t. ( p – G r a n t s p e a k i n g t o J e f f e r s o n ) O n l y w h e n t h e m i n d i s f r e e h a s t h e b o d y a c h a n c e t o b e f r e e. ( p – R e v. A m b r o s e s p e a k i n g )

9 A L ESSON B EFORE D YING BY E RNEST J. G AINES An Introduction © 2010 L.J. Perales


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