Study Guide

A Lesson Before Dying Chapter 16

By Ernest J. Gaines

Chapter 16

  • Grant is back at school, wandering around the yard, when he sees his aunt, Reverend Ambrose, and Miss Emma come back from visiting Jefferson.
  • The kids are inside planning the Christmas pageant, and before he lets them go he reminds the boys that are responsible for bringing the tree to try to get a pine. The year before they had gotten an oak.
  • He dismisses the kids and sits down to grade papers. One boy comes back with a message that Grant should stop by Miss Emma's on his way home.
  • He goes and Miss Emma tells him that he lied about Jefferson being all right when he saw him.
  • She says that she had to hit Jefferson today.
  • Later, Grant overhears his aunt telling Miss Eloise what had happened.
  • Jefferson wouldn't speak to his aunt when she visited and just looked at her with a blank face.
  • When she tried to get him to eat he asked if she brought corn because that's what hogs eat.
  • He said that he is a hog, and that they're fattening him up. This was too much for Miss Emma and she hit him. The Reverend Ambrose and Tante Lou had to pull her off of him when the deputy came to let them go.
  • When Emma starts crying, after telling Grant that she had to hit Jefferson, she asks why the Lord hates her. Tante Lou tries to comfort her.
  • She tells Grant that he has to go back because he's the teacher. He gets up and tries to go, but his aunt is pretty clear that he is not going to run away from this duty.
  • Grant goes home because he knows he can't change their minds.