When and where does A Lesson Before Dying take place?
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The novel is set in bayou country, Louisiana during the 1940s. This was a pivotal time in America: a time of war abroad and in the South (for civil rights). The Jim Crow era was a time of segregation, and Gaines shows the disparity primarily in the education system. It would not be until 1954 with the Brown. vs. Board of Ed. that schools in the South would be made to integrate.
Grant Wiggins, the novel's narrator, is a school teacher who ironically learns from an uneducated "subhuman," Jefferson, who is about to be executed. The execution is to be on April 8, two weeks after Good Friday and the Easter holiday. T.S. Eliot said, "April is the cruelest month," as Gaines well attests. Grant, though not reborn, does break down and cry at the end, after reading Jefferson's journal.
If you look at the back of the book:
"A LESSON BEFORE DYING is set in a small Cajun community in the late 1940s."
The town is near Bayonne, a fictional city if Louisiana. This is mentioned in the preface-ish thing.
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