KenYatta Rogers reading A Lesson Before Dying. I've said it quite a few times that the two best moves I have ever made in life are the day I went to California and the day I came back here. That happened in 1948, the same year that I left to go to California. Administrative Assistants: Pepper Smith and Erica Koss. But the radio proves to be only the first gift that changes Jefferson's life.
Ernest Gaines: When I was kid growing up, we'd go to my grandmother's house and we used to listen to the music, especially late at night you could hear this blues and the stuff. Gaines was born in 1933 on the River Lake plantation in Pointe Coupee Parish, Louisiana, the setting for most of his fiction; he was the fifth generation in his family to be born there. In what ways do these interactions reflect the roles of black women within their families and in African-American society? Gioia: At 15, Gaines moved to California to attend high school. What is the effect of this motif on the reader? Gaines published his first short story in 1956. When I was growing up, there were maybe one or two radios on the quarters here. Sister Prejean: Grant's big breakthrough with him comes when he brings him a radio.
Warden Cain: It is a cop out, probably, when I think about it, but you just can hardly bear to have to carry him down there and fight with him and struggle and tie him down, and what if the witnesses see that struggle, I mean, this is traumatic for everybody. Sister Prejean: It's really a story about human freedom and choice up against great extremity and great injustice. The point of the story is how two men would grow to become real men. Reed: That's KenYatta Rogers reading from Ernest Gaines's A Lesson Before Dying, a novel about a man condemned to death and the teacher who helps him find dignity in the face of adversity. The characters represent a range of belief.
He walked off with the prestigious National Book Critics Circle Award. Warden Burl Cain: It's like I keep thinking Ernest Gaines had witnessed an execution. Why then is Jefferson's death so disturbing to this book's black characters, and even to some of its white ones? In prison, Jefferson constantly repeats that he is a hog and behaves like one. At the trial, the essence of the defense is that the accused, a lowly form of existence lacking even a modicum of intelligence, is incapable of premeditated murder. Many detailed descriptions of Cajun cuisine appear in the novel.
. Why does the Reverend emerge as the stronger of the two men? He re-creates the smells of Miss Emma's fried chicken, the sounds of the blues from Jefferson's radio, the taste of the sugarcane from the plantation. At various points in the book Gaines draws analogies between Jefferson and Jesus. Emma's best friend, Tante Lou. Critics refer to Gaines as a master storyteller. Gaines On August 16, 2007, Dan Stone of the National Endowment for the Arts interviewed Ernest J. He dimensionalizes racism, knowing that if you can analyze something, you can understand it better.
It is the blues that reaches Jefferson spiritually. Describe the relative importance of the tradition in various cultures and explain the purposes the tradition serves for different peoples. This was Vivian's first time back here. Tyson: The blow that devastated his godmother, Emma, was when he was referred to as a hog. Women play a significant role in the book. And I, this is the reason why I had it, it was to get him to open up.
He soon won the Joseph Henry Jackson Award for a novel in progress. I visited small-town sheriffs and jails. How does he develop over the course of the novel? I tried to write ghost stories about San Francisco. I can't write about San Francisco! He broke through to a wider public with The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman 1971 , which was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in fiction. And the first visit goes like that, second visit goes like that.
I counted eight cells for black prisoners with two bunks to each cell. Gioia: Thanks for joining The Big Read. The mission is doubly difficult because Grant isn't sure he knows what a man is. She raised you and loves you. How does the past haunt Vivian? Neither one is going anywhere in life. Gaines: In San Francisco, you live across the bay from San Quentin, you know, and ten o'clock on Tuesdays, this was execution day.