Study Guide

A Lesson Before Dying Chapter 31

By Ernest J. Gaines

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Chapter 31

  • At school Grant gets ready for the terrible afternoon.
  • He remembers being a kid and playing in the yard, and thinks about all his schoolmates who have gone to cities or are dead.
  • When the kids come back from lunch Grant has them all kneel down and pray silently.
  • He goes outside and walks, wondering why he isn't with Jefferson, why he isn't with his students.
  • He sits under a pecan tree in Pichot's yard, and waits.
  • Grant notices a butterfly land on a little hill and takes that as a sign that it is over.
  • He walks back, toward the church. Just before he gets there Paul pulls up in a car, and gives Grant Jefferson's notebook.
  • Relieving the children's knees, he tells them they can get up and heads outside again to talk to Paul.
  • Paul tells Grant that it went as well as it could have, and that Jefferson was the strongest one in the room. His last words were "Tell Nannan (his godmother) I walked." Paul couldn't watch after they covered his face, but he heard the jolts of electricity.
  • Deputy Paul tells Grant that he's a great teacher; Grant says that's impossible because you have to believe to be a teacher.
  • The two men shake hands. Paul heads back to Bayonne, and Grant goes into the school.
  • When he gets back in he faces his students, crying.
  • Huh. That's exactly what we're doing right now. Wait, no: onions. We're chopping onions. Does anyone have any Kleenex?

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