Ernest J. Gaines Discussion Topics

Discussion Topics

(Masterpieces of American Literature)

Why do you think Ernest J. Gaines’s fiction appeals to high school and college students?

Find examples of strong black women characters who hold the moral center in much of his fiction.

How does the author’s portrayal of racism in the United States function as a lesson to readers unfamiliar with this history?

Using examples from his fiction, discuss the author’s skill in portraying the essential humanity of characters whose actions are intrinsically evil.

Does the author take a political position on the issue of capital punishment in A Lesson Before Dying?

Some have criticized Gaines’s work for not expressing a strong enough protest against racism. Do you agree?

Films of Gaines’s fiction are available in schools and libraries. Compare one of these films with the original text and discuss whether it fits your own interpretation.