Friday, April 4, 2008
Journal Entry: A Lesson Before Dying
I was not there, yet I was there. No, I did not go to the trial, I did not hear the verdict, because I knew all the time what it would be. Still, I was there. I was there as much as anyone else was there. Either I sat behind my aunt and his godmother or I sat beside them…Once she and my aunt had found their places…his godmother became as immobile as a great stone…she heard nothing said in the courtroom. Not by the prosecutor, not by the defense attorney, not by my aunt. (Oh, yes, she did hear one word-one word for sure: ‘hog.’) …She knew, as we all knew, what the outcome would be. A white man had been killed during a robbery, and though two of the robbers had been killed on the spot, one head been captured, and he, too, would have to die.
The author, Ernest J. Gaines, starts the book with this passage. Already, in this first passage he demonstrates racism and love. Gaines chooses start the story in a sad way. He also sets the story to begin in a trial, where a man is being innocently accused of murder. Then, when Grant, the narrator of the story, says “…she did hear one word-one word for sure: ‘hog’,” Gaines gives a clue that later on, pride will be a big them of the book. The way that he words that phrase and how he makes it stick out with the parenthesis seems very important. “His godmother” also seems to be very important because of the way Gaines talks about her. He compares her to “a great stone,” where we figure out that she must love this person a lot because it seems that she’s is dazing off into space, staring in only one direction, which is the direction of her godchild. Gaines chooses to start off like this because it brings more interest to the story. Right away we can tell that there will be a fight of justice. Grant says that he did not hear the verdict because he already knew what it would be, as did the godmother, so this indicates that the setting of the story was probably in the times where racism was still big. Gaines chose to begin the first passage of the book giving us an idea of how times were back then so that we’d understand later on the difficulties Grant, his ant and the godmother would have to go through to fight justice.