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A Lesson before Dying

by Ernest J. Gaines

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In "A Lesson Before Dying" what happen that would go under betrayal? In the themes of being treated differently because of skin color and being accused of murder who was betrayed?

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The concept of betrayal in "A Lesson Before Dying" is evident in several of the relationships. Grant feels that he is being betrayed by his Aunt Lou when she askes him to enter the back door of the sheriffs house. He had told her many years ago that he would never cross the threshold of that house again, but his aunt insists that he go to the house to ask permission to see Jefferson in jail. He doesn't want to go to the home and he doesn't want to visit Jefferson.

Another example of betrayal is when Jefferson is accused of a murder he did not committ.  Not only is he tried, but according to the law he is to be tried by a jury of his peers.  The jury is made up of all white men.  There are none of his peers on the jury.  He is sentenced to death by a jury of white men who feel Jefferson is no more than a "hog."  Jefferson feels betrayed by his community and that he should not have to give anymore of himself to anyone. 

"From the beginning until the very end of A Lesson Before Dying a sense of injustice prevails. While this theme derives from the larger theme of racism, Gaines uses specific incidents to demonstrate how underlying racist beliefs can result in miscarriage of justice."

Grant's aunt feels betrayed because Grant has turned his back on God.  She feels that Grant is going against everything she has ever sacrificed so that he could grow up, get an education and give back to his people.

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