Study Guide

A Lesson Before Dying Three-Act Plot Analysis

By Ernest J. Gaines

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Three-Act Plot Analysis

Act I

This act lasts from the trial to the time where Grant finds himself stuck going to the prison to visit Jefferson on his own. A plot is formed when Grant's aunt and Miss Emma join forces to get Grant to make Jefferson into a man. He really has no choice but to obey.

Act II

The second act starts when Grant begins seeing Jefferson alone and ends when he argues with the Reverend over what their job/s are. The characters are moving far from resolution. Grant gets Jefferson to open up by buying him a radio, candy, and a notebook to write in. He wants him to be comfortable. The Reverend is the polar opposite; he thinks that the radio is a "sin box" and that the most important thing is Jefferson's soul.


This act is comprised of Jefferson's final days, which he chronicles in the notebook Grant gave him, his execution, and the response of the other characters to Jefferson's death.

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