A Lesson Before Dying is the story of the trial of Jefferson, an innocent man convicted of murder on the sole basis of his black heritage. Set in Louisiana during the racial tensions of the 1940s, the story chronicles Jefferson's trial and execution and their impact on the people surrounding the man himself. The novel's tone ranges from broadly cynical to vibrantly hopeful, encompassing the spirit of racial politics in America throughout the twentieth century.

Summary of A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines

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A Lesson Before Dying Chapter Summaries (Free)

1SparkNotes

Review: The most popular website for book notes. SparkNotes was created by students for students, and their summaries are accessible and extremely well-written. Besides the usual plot overview, chapter summaries, and character analysis, SparkNotes differentiates itself with a section discussing themes, motifs, and symbols.

2Cliffs Notes

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3Pink Monkey

Review: Their chapter summaries aren't as good as other providers, but PinkMonkey often has interesting insights that aren't mentioned elsewhere on the Internet. For example, they go over literary elements (like setting, conflict, and mood), compare and contrast, and symbolism/motifs. It's a good site if you want to find a unique fact or angle that other students don't know about.