Study Guide

A Lesson Before Dying Chapter 30

By Ernest J. Gaines

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Chapter 30

  • Sidney deRogers was headed to work when he saw a black truck with a gray tarp over it. (No, we haven't heard of Sidney before, and we're no longer hearing from Grant's perspective, either.) He feels a cold chill when it goes by.
  • His boss's wife, Lucy Jarreau, sends him to the store for white thread. When he gets there everyone is distracted and gathered around the truck. They won't even help him at the store, telling him that Lucy can send the money another day.
  • Suddenly Grant is back to tell us his side of the story. He says that his aunt spent the night before at Miss Emma's house, along with lots of other people there to keep her company.
  • He and Vivian went to the Rainbow Club that night and she promised to make her students kneel starting at noon until she'd heard the news. They know the execution will happen between noon and 3:00 P.M. Grant takes a bottle of brandy to go and goes home.
  • The minister couldn't sleep and headed to the courthouse early, where he would be a witness to the execution.
  • The sheriff got up early too, because he had to be at the courthouse before eight to receive the delivery of the electric chair.
  • Two women working at the department store see the truck come up and even see the horrible electric chair being unloaded.
  • A prisoner in the courthouse also happens to see the chair coming in as he finishes up with cleaning the bathrooms. A white man tells him that he had better be careful or he would sit in "Gruesome Gerty's" lap (a nickname for the chair).
  • Clay Lemon, another guy who works in the town, heard a terrible noise when he was going to run an errand at the bank.
  • Paul, the deputy, is ordered to get another prisoner, Murphy, to shave certain parts of Jefferson's legs and wrists and his head so that the electrodes stick on right. The executioner, Henry Vincent, makes it clear that it will torture Jefferson if they don't get all the hairs off.
  • They shave the prisoner, and he gives Paul the radio, the notebook to send to Grant, and the pocketknife to give back to the sheriff.
  • Paul tells Jefferson that he will be there when it happens.

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