Study Guide

A Lesson Before Dying Chapter 8

By Ernest J. Gaines

Chapter 8

  • Winter is coming and since the church/school is only heated by one wood-burning oven the students' families take turns sending wood in for fuel.
  • Two old men, Henry Lewis and Amos Thomas, bring the first load. That afternoon Grant sends the older boys out to chop it up into firewood.
  • He remembers when he himself was a boy in that same school, chopping the wood with his classmates. Now all of those boys are dead or in prison. Oh, that's bleak.
  • Grant also remembers Matthew Antoine, his own teacher, who had been a bitter man. He was biracial, and was angry about his race and about his destiny to be stuck on the plantation. Life was super-tough, and super-confusing for biracial people back in the day because they were often excluded from black and white communities.
  • He told the students that they should run away.
  • Since Grant didn't run away, but rather went off to the university and came back to teach, Mr. Antoine seemed to hate him even more.
  • One day Grant visited Mr. Antoine, who was sick. He told him that there is nothing but ignorance in their world and that Grant would just be the "n***** he was born to be."
  • When he finally was ready to start teaching, Grant asked Mr. Antoine for advice. He told him to try his best, but that it wouldn't matter.
  • Not exactly Oh, the Places You'll Go!, now is it?