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A Lesson Before Dying

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"A Lesson Before Dying" by Ernest J. Gaines has changed my opinion on the death penalty. Before reading the book I believed capital punishment was not a good form of criminal punishment because it did not deter crime. After researching capital punishment I now believe that capital punishment sets an example for others not to commit crime because they will receive the same punishment.

"A Lesson Before Dying" by Ernest J. Gaines, is about a man who is being persecuted for a crime that he did not commit. Jefferson was at the wrong place at the wrong time and now is being put on trial for the murder of three men. Gaines describes Jefferson was an innocent bystander who did nothing wrong, but because he is poor black man no one will believe him. He is tried and convicted of murder and was sentenced to death. Gaines then introduces Grant Wiggins into the story who is an educated man that teaches on a plantation outside of Louisiana. Jefferson's godmother begs Grant to help her fight for Jefferson's dignity. She does not want Jefferson to die as a poor, helpless hog; she wants him to die with pride. Grant finally agrees to go see Jefferson in jail, although he gets nowhere the first few attempts. After Jefferson heard what the lawyer said about him, he too believes he is a hog. Grant finally begins to speak to Jefferson and he gives him a notebook to jot down his feelings. Grant wants Jefferson to see that this is his chance to stand up for himself and the black community. He tells him that he has become a symbol to his people and the community. Jefferson finally realizes that his death is very important to these people and he must show them that he is brave. Jefferson can finally die and proud and honorable man and on the day of his execution Grant cries, not only for Jefferson but for all black men.

Gaines is very persuasive in his writings throughout "A Lesson Before Dying." Gaines writes, "I want you to chip at that myth by standing. I want you to show them that you-yes, you-to call them liars. I want you to show them that you are as much a man-more than they can ever be. I want you to show them difference between what they think you are and what you can be." (192) Grant wants Jefferson to realize that his death is very important. He wants Jefferson to die with pride and dignity. Jefferson realizes this as well and he begins to cry. I do not believe it is right that he receives the death penalty under his certain circumstances. Although I do believe the death penalty can and should be applied when

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