Study Guide

A Lesson Before Dying Chapter 2

By Ernest J. Gaines

Chapter 2

  • The narrator comes home from school and sees his aunt and Miss Emma, Jefferson's godmother, sitting in the kitchen.
  • He doesn't want to have to deal with her sadness, so he sneaks into his room to avoid her.
  • Too late, his aunt catches him.
  • The narrator's aunt tells him to go speak to Miss Emma, and he tries to make excuses but she is not having it.
  • The narrator pretends to be grading a fourth-grader's homework, but he can't concentrate and goes with his aunt to the kitchen to Miss Emma.
  • Miss Emma stares out into the yard for a while, and then says, "Called him a hog."
  • She says she knows that the lawyer was just trying to make his case, but that it didn't work.
  • Miss Emma says that she doesn't want them to kill a hog; she wants them to kill a man.
  • The narrator doesn't know at first what she needs from him, but he starts to get an inkling. He starts to leave but his aunt makes him sit right back down.
  • Because he's the teacher, they want him to go and talk to Mr. Henri, the sheriff's brother-in-law.
  • The narrator doesn't want to go, and says he's going to Bayonne, another town. He says that Jefferson is practically already dead and that there's nothing he can do.
  • His aunt tells him that if he doesn't go with them to talk to Mr. Henri he won't sleep in the house that night.
  • The narrator, Grant, is furious because he hates the place where he lives and just wants to escape. He's so angry he wants to scream.
  • But he knows that if he screams it won't help anything.