Study Guide

A Lesson Before Dying Chapter 21

By Ernest J. Gaines

Chapter 21

  • Grant finally gets up the courage to go to Miss Emma's, where a lot of people have gathered.
  • She's in bed, and Tante Lou is in charge of the kitchen and the guests.
  • Grant's aunt is angry with him for not coming sooner, and he just heads home.
  • Vivian shows up because she's heard the news and wants to be with Grant.
  • They decide that they should both go over to Miss Emma's. Everyone is polite but cold to Vivian.
  • Miss Emma asks to speak to Grant alone, and asks him to work together with Reverend Mose. Talk about a kamikaze mission. Those two are like oil and water.
  • Vivian and Grant decide to drive into town and go to the Rainbow Club.
  • When they get there and order Vivian says she thinks Irene, the teaching assistant, is in love with Grant. He says that every lady in the quarter is in love with him, and Vivian thinks he doesn't know what she means.
  • He explains that for three hundred years black men have not been able to protect their women, because of slavery, and that they either stay in the South and are broken or run away, abandoning the women and children.
  • Grant says that every woman he knows is hoping that he will be the one who breaks the cycle and saves them. He says that's what Emma wants, too: for Jefferson to break the cycle and be a man.