Study Guide

A Lesson Before Dying Chapter 20

By Ernest J. Gaines

Chapter 20

  • In late February Farrell Jarreau shows up at the school again, telling Grant that they've set the date and that he's wanted at Pichot's.
  • He leaves Irene Cole in charge and heads over to Henri's house. Reverend Ambrose is already inside, sitting at the kitchen table drinking coffee. Grant won't sit down or drink coffee.
  • Luckily this time they don't keep him waiting as long and the sheriff shows up fifteen minutes later.
  • The Reverend and Grant are invited into the front room, a place where neither of them has ever been before.
  • The Sheriff tells them that Jefferson will be executed on the second Friday after Easter, and that he'll send a doctor for Miss Emma.
  • Grant asks why that's the day they chose, and the Sheriff says that it had to be before or after Lent because of the large Catholic population in the state.
  • Jefferson has just over a month until April 8th, his execution date, and the sheriff says that he can still have visitors, as long as they don't aggravate him.
  • The sheriff calls the doctor and tells him to go to Miss Emma's.
  • With that, Pichot thanks everybody for coming, which is their signal to leave, pronto.
  • The Reverend offers to give Grant a ride to Miss Emma's house, but he doesn't want to go and see her in that pain, so he leaves Reverend Ambrose to it and walks in the opposite direction.
  • He wanders a bit then goes back to the school to pick up his things.