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Gaines is effective as a storyteller in A Lesson Before Dying because he does not paint his characters in a simple light. In the attached essay, the argument is made that Gaines does not make it easy for the reader to pass judgment on the characters. For example, Jefferson is not simply a witness to Grope's murder--he robs the store on the way out making him at least somewhat guilty in the events that occurred at the store. Similarly, Grant displays much weakness throughout the novel, but he is in fact the only person who is able to reach Jefferson before he dies. Even Paul is not as simple as he appears--he is painted as a decent person, but he refuses to look Jefferson in the eye on the day of his death. A lesser storyteller may have fallen into the trap of developing the characters as totally good or evil, but Gaines is clever in his portrayal of the characters and leaves it up to the reader to determine what lessons are learned in the end.
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