A Lesson Before Dying

by: Ernest J. Gaines

Tante Lou

Characters Tante Lou

Tante Lou is slightly subdued and seldom reveals her thoughts to Grant. Even by the end of the novel, we do not truly understand her. Her occasional remarks reveal her to be a spiritual woman, motivated by a powerful faith in God and in his good works. Because of her faith, Tante Lou has the hope and resilience Grant lacks, and she disapproves of Grant’s cynical brand of atheism. She exudes a sense of dignity despite her position in society; she and Miss Emma dress respectably and insist upon being chauffeured in the backseat to the Pichots. Tante Lou refuses to accept the idea that she must despair just because blacks in the South remain on the bottom rung of the economic ladder. Tante Lou is a positive force in Grant’s life and in the community. In some ways, she is responsible for Grant’s evolution. She demands that he behave with compassion and bravery, nagging him to help Jefferson and insisting that he speak with the Pichots in order to gain visitation rights at the prison.