Northeast Book Club

Northeast Library

Northeast Book Club

"A Lesson Before Dying"

The Northeast Book Club met again on May 24 with 10 members in attendance. The book under discussion was A Lesson before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines.  This is the story of two young black men–Jefferson, a school dropout on death row, and Grant, a first generation college graduate and school teacher–both facing issues of racial oppression.

Some Northeast book club members expressed their disgust at the racial bias and social injustices perpetrated against Jefferson, who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. As a result, he was sentenced to death for the murder of a liquor store owner and two other men.

One club member commented that he saw Grant as a selfish character forced to speak with Jefferson by his aunt because he was nervous and did not want to get close to someone who was going to die. In addition, the member observed that Grant believed the only way to escape racism was to leave Louisiana, despite the fact that his people looked up to him for leadership and expected him to lead them out of oppression.

Grant evolves as a character and grows very close to Jefferson over the months before his execution. This growth and maturity was seen as his psychological success in making Jefferson "die as a man."  It was affirmed by club members as the symbol of the beginning of the long journey toward social change and social justice.

The next book club meeting will take place on June 28 at 7 p.m. The book for the month of June is The Spare Wife by Alex Witchel