Study Guide

A Lesson Before Dying Injustice

By Ernest J. Gaines

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At the center of A Lesson Before Dying is a huge injustice: a young man wrongly convicted of murder and sentenced to death by electrocution. However, it's important to notice all the tiny little injustices surrounding that big one, because you'll see that it's a pattern in society.

Whether the unjust treatment occurs at the bank, at school, or at somebody's house, it is all part of a general environment of absolute injustice that pervades the novel. It even rears its fugly head when our protagonist tries to buy a radio.

Questions About Injustice

  1. Do any of the characters seem to be particularly preoccupied with justice? Who, and why?
  2. Why do you think that the black characters deal with the climate of injustice in the way that they do? Why is there not, for example, more anger?
  3. How does the novel portray the differences between white and black citizens as unjust?

Chew on This

Although the execution of Jefferson is the greatest injustice in the novel, it is the result of thousands of other injustices that put him in a position of poverty and ignorance.

Although he doesn't realize it, Grant reproduces the same injustices that anger him through his actions in his classroom.

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