A Lesson Before Dying
Study Questions & Essay Topics
1. Why is Grant initially so reluctant to help Jefferson?
2. How is Grant able to help Jefferson?
3. Why do you think we never meet Vivian’s children? What does their absence from the novel say about Grant and his relationship with Vivian?
4. Why do you think Gaines chose Grant to narrate the novel? Why didn’t he choose an omniscient, third-person to narrate the story?
Suggested Essay Topics
1. Why does Reverend Ambrose call Grant uneducated?
2. How does Jefferson change Grant’s life? How does Grant change Jefferson’s life?
3. To what degree does Jefferson control his own transformation?
4. Is Jefferson a hero? Is Grant?
5. How does Jefferson compare to other inspirational figures in this novel (Jackie Robinson, Joe Louis, Jesus Christ)? How does Grant compare to them?
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