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A Lesson before Dying

by Ernest J. Gaines

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In "A Lesson Before Dying," why does Grant refuse supper while waiting for Henry Pichot?

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In A Lesson Before Dying, Grant refuses to take dinner at Mr. Henri's house because he does not respect Mr. Henri.  To appease Miss Emma and his aunt, Grant has already used the back door to enter the home, something his aunt Lou told him never to do again.  Grant has gone to university and is educated, but whites around him such as Mr. Henri, refuse to see him as a peer.  Even though slavery is over, racial tension still divides people in the area.  If Grant were to eat at Mr. Henri's house, he would not do so in the company of Mr. Henri--he would have to eat back in the kitchen with the maid Inez.  Taking the food would symbolize Grant's acceptance of being treated like a lower person, so he refuses to eat at Mr. Henri's house.  Grant's actions show the reader that Grant is proud of who he is and will not stand for being treated poorly.

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