Study Guide

A Lesson Before Dying Chapter 12

By Ernest J. Gaines

Chapter 12

  • Grant can't face Miss Emma after what he just saw with Jefferson, so he goes to the Rainbow Club instead.
  • He orders a beer and listens to some old men talking about Jackie Robinson.
  • Listening to the talk makes Grant think of when he was a kid and everybody was obsessed with the boxer Joe Louis.
  • He also remembers a time when an Irishman came to speak at his university, which was, of course, a black university. He told the class that a story by James Joyce, "Ivy Day in the Committee Room" was a universal story no matter what race you were.
  • Grant had gotten a copy of the story from a teacher and at first didn't understand how the Irish story had anything to do with black people. As he grew older, though, he realized that every people gathers together to talk about their heroes, just like the old men in the Rainbow Club were doing.
  • After a while Grant heads out to look for Vivian. He goes to the school where she works, and she puts him to work erasing the chalkboard.
  • She had been teaching French, so he writes, "I love you" in French on the board. Awww.
  • He tries to get Vivian to run off with him, but she won't because she's afraid it will give her estranged husband an excuse to take her kids away from her.
  • Vivian tells Grant that he doesn't really want to leave because he loves his people.