A Lesson Before Dying

Grant Wiggins Character Analysis

The local schoolteacher, narrator, and the protagonist of A Lesson Before Dying, Grant Wiggins is initially reluctant when Miss Emma Glenn and Tante Lou give him the task of talking to Jefferson before he’s executed. Grant is a college-educated black man, but he’s returned to his childhood home, where his ancestors were slaves, to teach at the segregated primary school where he was once a student. He is often frustrated with the lack of progress he sees in his students and in his community, and he fears that he isn’t accomplishing anything at all for his students by teaching them “reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic.” While Grant believes in God, he questions his faith throughout the novel, and disagrees with Emma, Tante Lou, and Reverend Ambrose for being so concerned with Jefferson’s soul. Grant finds it difficult to follow the tenets of Catholicism because he believes that Christianity promotes meekness and the acceptance of one’s fate. Grant despises the condescension and outright hostility of whites like Henri Pichot to members of the black community; it’s for this reason that he struggles to accept Christianity, as he sees it as causing blacks to accept their terrible treatment. As Grant spends more time with Jefferson, he begins to see signs that his new student can change; this inspires him and makes him feel validated as a teacher. His beautiful girlfriend, Vivian Baptiste, is also instrumental in encouraging him to spend more time with Jefferson and see the signs that Jefferson is growing braver and stronger. By the novel’s conclusion, Grant regards Jefferson as an enormously brave man. He continues to question the virtues of Christianity, but nonetheless respects religion for its ability to inspire hope in its believers.

Grant Wiggins Quotes in A Lesson Before Dying

The A Lesson Before Dying quotes below are all either spoken by Grant Wiggins or refer to Grant Wiggins. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Racism Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Vintage edition of A Lesson Before Dying published in 1994.
Chapter 2 Quotes

“What can I do? It’s only a matter of weeks, a couple of months, maybe. What can I do that you haven’t done the past twenty-one years?”
“You the teacher,” she said.
“Yes, I’m the teacher,” I said. “And I teach what the white folks around here tell me to teach— reading, writing, and ’rithmetic. They never told me how to keep a black boy out of a liquor store.”

Related Characters: Grant Wiggins (speaker), Miss Emma Glenn (speaker), Jefferson
Page Number: 13
Explanation and Analysis:

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“He don’t have to do it,” Miss Emma said ...

Related Characters: Miss Emma Glenn (speaker), Grant Wiggins
Page Number: 13
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 4 Quotes

“Suppose I was allowed to visit him, and suppose I reached him and made him realize that he was as much a man as any other man; then what? He’s still going to die. The next day, the next week, the next month. So what will I have accomplished? What will I have done? Why not let the hog die without knowing anything?”

Related Characters: Grant Wiggins (speaker), Jefferson
Page Number: 31
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 6 Quotes

Edna turned back to me. “Grant, please tell Emma how sorry I am about Jefferson. I would do it myself, but I’m just too broken up over this matter. I ran into Madame Gropé just the other day; Lord, how sad she looks. Just dragging along. Poor old thing. I had to put my arms round her.” Edna drank from her glass.

Related Characters: Edna Guidry (speaker), Grant Wiggins, Jefferson
Related Symbols: Food and Meals
Page Number: 45
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 7 Quotes

Besides looking at hands, now he began inspecting teeth. Open wide, say “Ahhh”—and he would have the poor children spreading out their lips as far as they could while he peered into their mouths. At the university I had read about slave masters who had done the same when buying new slaves, and I had read of cattlemen doing it when purchasing horses and cattle. At least Dr. Joseph had graduated to the level where he let the children spread out their own lips, rather than using some kind of crude metal instrument. I appreciated his humanitarianism.

Related Characters: Grant Wiggins (speaker), Dr. Joseph Morgan
Page Number: 56
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 8 Quotes

It was he, Matthew Antoine, as teacher then, who stood by the fence while we chopped the wood. He had told us then that most of us would die violently, and those who did not would be brought down to the level of beasts. Told us that there was no other choice but to run and run. That he was living testimony of someone who should have run. That in him—he did not say all this, but we felt it—there was nothing but hatred for himself as well as contempt for us. He hated himself for the mixture of his blood and the cowardice of his being, and he hated us for daily reminding him of it.

Related Characters: Grant Wiggins (speaker), Matthew Antoine
Page Number: 62
Explanation and Analysis:

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“We got our first load of wood last week,” I told him. “Nothing changes,” he said. “I guess I’m a genuine teacher now,” I said. He nodded, and coughed. He didn’t seem to want to talk. Still, I sat there, both of us gazing into the fire. “Any advice?” I asked him. “It doesn’t matter anymore,” he said. “Just do the best you can. But it won’t matter.”

Related Characters: Grant Wiggins (speaker), Matthew Antoine (speaker)
Related Symbols: Fire, Heat, and Warmth, Wood
Page Number: 66
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 10 Quotes

“Everything you sent me to school for, you’re stripping me of it,” I told my aunt. They were looking at the fire, and I stood behind them with the bag of food. “The humiliation I had to go through, going into that man’s kitchen. The hours I had to wait while they ate and drank and socialized before they would even see me. Now going up to that jail. To watch them put their dirty hands on that food. To search my body each time as if I’m some kind of common criminal. Maybe today they’ll want to look into my mouth, or my nostrils, or make me strip. Anything to humiliate me. All the things you wanted me to escape by going to school. Years ago, Professor Antoine told me that if I stayed here, they were going to break me down to the nigger I was born to be. But he didn’t tell me that my aunt would help them do it.”

Related Characters: Grant Wiggins (speaker), Tante Lou
Related Symbols: Fire, Heat, and Warmth, Food and Meals
Page Number: 79
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 13 Quotes

There was no one thing that changed my faith. I suppose it was a combination of many things, but mostly it was just plain studying. I did not have time for anything else. Many times I would not come home on weekends, and when I did, I found that I cared less and less about the church. Of course, it pained my aunt to see this change in me, and it saddened me to see the pain I was causing her. I thought many times about leaving, as Professor Antoine had advised me to do. My mother and father also told me that if I was not happy in Louisiana, I should come to California. After visiting them the summer following my junior year at the university, I came back, which pleased my aunt. But I had been running in place ever since, unable to accept what used to be my life, unable to leave it.

Related Characters: Grant Wiggins (speaker), Tante Lou, Matthew Antoine
Page Number: 102
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 17 Quotes

“I don’t know when I’m going to die, Jefferson. Maybe tomorrow, maybe next week, maybe today. That’s why I try to live as well as I can every day and not hurt people. Especially people who love me, people who have done so much for me, people who have sacrificed for me. I don’t want to hurt those people. I want to help those people as much as I can.”
“You can talk like that; you know you go’n walk out here in a hour. I bet you wouldn’t be talking like that if you knowed you was go’n stay in here.”
“In here or out of here, Jefferson, what does it benefit you to hurt someone who loves you, who has done so much for you?”

Related Characters: Grant Wiggins (speaker), Jefferson (speaker), Miss Emma Glenn
Page Number: 129
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 18 Quotes

“I’m not doing any good up there, Vivian,” I said. “Nothing’s changing.”
“Something is,” she said.

Related Characters: Grant Wiggins (speaker), Vivian Baptiste (speaker), Jefferson
Page Number: 142
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 19 Quotes

I was not happy. I had heard the same carols all my life, seen the same little play, with the same mistakes in grammar. The minister had offered the same prayer as always, Christmas or Sunday. The same people wore the same old clothes and sat in the same places. Next year it would be the same, and the year after that, the same again. Vivian said things were changing. But where were they changing?

Related Characters: Grant Wiggins (speaker)
Page Number: 152
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 21 Quotes

“We black men have failed to protect our women since the time of slavery. We stay here in the South and are broken, or we run away and leave them alone to look after the children and themselves. So each time a male child is born, they hope he will be the one to change this vicious circle—which he never does … What she wants is for him, Jefferson, and me to change everything that has been going on for three hundred years. She wants it to happen so in case she ever gets out of her bed again, she can go to that little church there in the quarter and say proudly, ‘You see, I told you—I told you he was a man.’

Related Characters: Grant Wiggins (speaker), Jefferson, Miss Emma Glenn
Page Number: 169
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 23 Quotes

“Last Friday,” I continued, “was the first time, the very first time, that Jefferson looked at me without hate, without accusing me of putting him in that cell. Last Friday was the first time he ever asked me a question or answered me without accusing me for his condition. I don’t know if you all know what I’m talking about. It seems you don’t. But I found a way to reach him for the first time. Now, he needs that radio, and he wants it.

Related Characters: Grant Wiggins (speaker), Jefferson
Page Number: 185
Explanation and Analysis:

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“Well, I guess I’ll be taking off,” I said. “Anything you want me to tell your nannan?” I had stood. Now he looked up at me. There was no hate in his face—but Lord, there was pain. I could see that he wanted to say something, but it was hard for him to do. I stood over him, waiting. “Tell—tell the chirren thank you for the pe-pecans,” he stammered. I caught myself grinning like a fool. I wanted to throw my arms around him and hug him. I wanted to hug the first person I came to. I felt like someone who had just found religion. I felt like crying with joy. I really did.

Related Characters: Grant Wiggins (speaker), Jefferson (speaker)
Page Number: 189
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 24 Quotes

“Do you know what a hero is, Jefferson? A hero is someone who does something for other people. He does something that other men don’t and can’t do. He is different from other men. He is above other men. No matter who those other men are, the hero, no matter who he is, is above them.” I lowered my voice again until we had passed the table. “I could never be a hero. I teach, but I don’t like teaching. I teach because it is the only thing that an educated black man can do in the South today. I don’t like it; I hate it. I don’t even like living here. I want to run away. I want to live for myself and for my woman and for nobody else. That is not a hero. A hero does for others.”

Related Characters: Grant Wiggins (speaker), Jefferson
Page Number: 194
Explanation and Analysis:

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“Do you know what a myth is, Jefferson?” I asked him. “A myth is an old lie that people believe in. White people believe that they’re better than anyone else on earth—and that’s a myth. The last thing they ever want is to see a black man stand, and think, and show that common humanity that is in us all. It would destroy their myth. They would no longer have justification for having made us slaves and keeping us in the condition we are in. As long as none of us stand, they’re safe. They’re safe with me. They’re safe with Reverend Ambrose. I don’t want them to feel safe with you anymore.

Related Characters: Grant Wiggins (speaker), Jefferson
Page Number: 195
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 25 Quotes

I knew that like so many of the mulattos in this part of the state, they did bricklaying or carpentry, and possibly some housepainting. All this by contract. And all this to keep from working in the field side by side with the niggers. Since emancipation, almost a hundred years ago, they would do any kind of work they could find to keep from working side by side in the field with the niggers. They controlled most of the bricklaying business in this part of the state. Even took that kind of work from the white boys, because they would do it so much cheaper than the white boys would. Anything not to work alongside the niggers.

Related Characters: Grant Wiggins (speaker)
Page Number: 201
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 26 Quotes

I went to the front door and jerked it open, and there was the screen. And through the screen I could see outside into the darkness, and I didn’t want to go out there. There was nothing outside this house that I cared for. Not school, not home, not my aunt, not the quarter, not anything else in the world. I don’t know how long I stood there looking out into the darkness—a couple of minutes, I suppose —then I went back into the kitchen. I knelt down and buried my face in her lap ...

Related Characters: Grant Wiggins (speaker), Tante Lou, Vivian Baptiste
Page Number: 213
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 27 Quotes

“She been lying every day of her life, your aunt in there. That’s how you got through that university—cheating herself here, cheating herself there, but always telling you she’s all right. I’ve seen her hands bleed from picking cotton. I’ve seen the blisters from the hoe and the cane knife. At that church, crying on her knees. You ever looked at the scabs on her knees, boy? Course you never. ’Cause she never wanted you to see it. And that’s the difference between me and you, boy; that make me the educated one, and you the gump. I know my people. I know what they gone through. I know they done cheated themself, lied to themself—hoping that one they all love and trust can come back and help relieve the pain.”

Related Characters: Reverend Moses Ambrose (speaker), Grant Wiggins, Tante Lou
Page Number: 221
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 31 Quotes

Several feet away from where I sat under the tree was a hill of bull grass. I doubted that I had looked at it once in all the time that I had been sitting there. I probably would not have noticed it at all had a butterfly, a yellow butterfly with dark specks like ink dots on its wings, not lit there. What had brought it there? There was no odor that I could detect to have attracted it. There were other places where it could have rested—there was the wire fence on either side of the road, there were weeds along both ditches with strong fragrances, there were flowers just a short distance away in Pichot’s yard—so why did it light on a hill of bull grass that offered it nothing? I watched it closely, the way it opened its wings and closed them, the way it opened its wings again, fluttered, closed its wings for a second or two, then opened them again and flew away. I watched it fly over the ditch and down into the quarter, I watched it until I could not see it anymore.

Related Characters: Grant Wiggins (speaker)
Page Number: 255-56
Explanation and Analysis:

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“I don’t know what you’re going to say when you go back in there. But tell them he was the bravest man in that room today. I’m a witness, Grant Wiggins. Tell them so.”

Related Characters: Deputy Paul Bonin (speaker), Grant Wiggins, Jefferson
Page Number: 260
Explanation and Analysis:

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Grant Wiggins Character Timeline in A Lesson Before Dying

The timeline below shows where the character Grant Wiggins appears in A Lesson Before Dying. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2
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The narrator, who Lou addresses as Grant, goes to the kitchen to talk to Miss Emma. Emma’s full name is Emma Glenn,... (full context)
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Grant tells Miss Emma that he only knows how to teach what white people have taught... (full context)
Chapter 3
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Grant starts his car, a ’46 Ford, thinking irritably that he not only has to talk... (full context)
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Grant arrives at Pichot’s house, which is large, painted white and grey, and built in an... (full context)
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In the kitchen, Grant, Lou, and Emma meet the maid, Inez Lane, dressed in white. She tells them that... (full context)
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Henri Pichot arrives in the kitchen, followed by Louis Rougon; both men are white, Grant notes. Pichot is in his mid-sixties, carries a drink, and wears a grey suit with... (full context)
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...response to Emma’s pleas, Pichot tells her that he can’t promise anything; he looks at Grant. Grant thinks that he’s too educated to be of any use to Pichot anymore, but... (full context)
Chapter 4
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Grant drives Emma and Lou away from Pichot’s house. He drops off Emma at her house,... (full context)
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As Grant drives, he thinks about Bayonne. It is a town of 6000 people, about 3500 of... (full context)
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Grant arrives at the Rainbow Club, and sees Joe Claiborne, who owns it and runs the... (full context)
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...Baptiste enters the Rainbow Club. She is tall, well-dressed, and very beautiful—and she knows it. Grant greets her with a kiss and says he loves her. Vivian asks why he had... (full context)
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Grant and Vivian dance, slowly, and Grant tells Vivian that Jefferson has been sentenced to death,... (full context)
Chapter 5
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The day after he visits Vivian, Grant is teaching his schoolchildren, who address him as “Mister Wiggins.” They begin by pledging allegiance... (full context)
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Grant remembers his night after seeing Vivian. He drove home to his house, and when he... (full context)
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As he teaches his students, Grant finds himself getting angry with everything they do. He spanks one of his boys for... (full context)
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As the children work, Grant thinks that he knows all the families of his children. The boy he spanked, for... (full context)
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At two o’clock, Farrell Jarreau, a messenger for Henri Pichot, arrives at Grant’s classroom and tells Grant that Pichot wants to see him in the evening. He asks... (full context)
Chapter 6
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Grant returns to Pichot’s house, entering through the back door once again. Inez greets him and... (full context)
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Inez goes to fetch Pichot, and Grant stands in the hall thinking about his afternoon. He returned from school to find Emma... (full context)
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Grant waits an hour in the hall while Inez goes to get Pichot. At six o’clock,... (full context)
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At seven thirty, Grant has been waiting for two and a half hours. Pichot, Rougon, Sam Guidry, and a... (full context)
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Guidry asks Grant what he’d do if he were allowed to talk to Jefferson; Grant replies that he... (full context)
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Grant asks logistical questions, and learns the following from Guidry: he can’t see Jefferson for the... (full context)
Chapter 7
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In the weeks before Grant begins visiting Jefferson in jail, two things happen at school: the superintendent makes an annual... (full context)
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When the superintendent arrives, Grant greets him as Dr. Joseph, and notes that he is an old, fat, red-faced man... (full context)
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The next student Morgan calls on is a boy, Louis Washington, Jr., who Grant wishes had stayed home, because he is ill-behaved and a bad student. Morgan asks Louis... (full context)
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While the student teacher, Irene, leads the class, Grant speaks with Morgan outside. He tells Morgan that he needs new books and more chalk... (full context)
Chapter 8
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...to heat the school through the winter. As they take the wood around the school, Grant continues teaching his class, scolding Louis Washington for staring at the men from the window.... (full context)
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Henry Lewis knocks on the back door, telling Grant that they’re dropped off all the wood. Grant thanks him and Amos Thomas for their... (full context)
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Grant remembers being a student in the classroom where he now teaches. He chopped wood then,... (full context)
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Even after Grant went to college and returned to the plantation community, he noticed that Antoine looked at... (full context)
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Grant continues to remember his visit with Antoine. He had just finished his college education, and... (full context)
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Grant visited Antoine one more time before he died; Antoine was very sick at the time.... (full context)
Chapter 9
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A short time after receiving the first winter kindling, Grant takes Miss Emma to Bayonne—they are visiting Jefferson for the first time since he was... (full context)
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Grant and Emma arrive at the jailhouse where Jefferson is being held. It is a red... (full context)
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Paul leads Emma and Grant to Jefferson’s cell. As they walk there, the other prisoners ask Emma and Grant for... (full context)
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...when “they’re gonna do it,” and Emma asks him what “it” is. Jefferson stares into Grant’s eyes, and he feels that Jefferson knows that Grant knows what he’s talking about. Jefferson... (full context)
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...whatever Jefferson doesn’t eat to the other inmates; Paul says he will. As Emma and Grant walk out of the jail, Emma calls out for Jesus. Grant makes eye contact with... (full context)
Chapter 10
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Grant’s next two visits to Jefferson’s cell with Emma establish a routine: Grant drives Emma to... (full context)
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On the day of Grant’s fourth visit, he leaves Irene in charge of the students, and drives to Emma’s house... (full context)
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Grant sees Emma sitting in a rocking chair; she gives a theatrical cough, to convince Grant,... (full context)
Chapter 11
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Grant walks into the jailhouse, where Sheriff Guidry sits behind a desk. When Guidry sees Grant,... (full context)
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Paul walks Grant to Jefferson’s jail cell; along the walk, Grant gives out small change to the prisoners,... (full context)
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Grant says he’s going to return to Emma and tell her that Jefferson liked the pralines... (full context)
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After an hour elapses, Paul lets Grant out of the cell. Grant asks Jefferson if there’s anything he should tell Emma, but... (full context)
Chapter 12
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In the afternoon, Grant isn’t sure what to tell Emma about his visit. He could lie and say that... (full context)
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When he arrives at the Rainbow Club, Grant orders a beer, and avoids conversation with Joe Claiborne, the barman. There are some old... (full context)
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Thinking of Joe Louis reminds Grant of a lecture he once heard while he was in college. The lecturer was an... (full context)
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Grant finishes his drink and leaves the bar, bidding farewell to Claiborne. He goes to the... (full context)
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Grant tells Vivian about visiting Jefferson, watching him behave like an animal, and having to see... (full context)
Chapter 13
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...Sunday is the third Sunday of every month, when the churchgoers sing their favorite hymns. Grant is in his home, correcting student papers, and hears a local woman, Miss Eloise Bouie... (full context)
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As Lou proceeds to church and Grant grades papers, he thinks back to Friday, when he visited Jefferson alone for the first... (full context)
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Reverend Ambrose asks Grant what he thinks about Jefferson, deep in his heart. Grant is unsure how to answer... (full context)
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On Sunday, as Grant grades papers, he hears Emma, Ambrose, and Lou singing in the church. He thinks about... (full context)
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As Grant listens to singing from the church, Vivian arrives at his house, dressed beautifully in blue... (full context)
Chapter 14
Women and Femininity Theme Icon
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...asks where her children are, and Vivian says that Dora is taking care of them. Grant shows Vivian around his room, where his parents lived before they moved to California during... (full context)
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After having coffee and cake, Grant and Vivian go for a walk in the area around his home. This is the... (full context)
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After making love, Grant and Vivian talk, half-seriously, about raising children in the plantation area. They’ll name their children... (full context)
Chapter 15
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Immediately after Grant and Vivian make love in the previous chapter, they discuss their students. It is almost... (full context)
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As Grant and Vivian walk back to his house, Grant thinks about Vivian’s history. She married a... (full context)
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Grant and Vivian walk back to his house and see that his aunt and her friends... (full context)
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As Grant makes more coffee for everyone, Tante Lou asks Vivian if she’s Catholic. Vivian replies that... (full context)
Chapter 16
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It is Monday, and Grant is walking through the schoolyard when he sees his aunt, Reverend Ambrose, and Miss Emma... (full context)
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Grant goes to Miss Emma’s house shortly after he sends his students home. There, Emma confronts... (full context)
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On Monday, Grant sits at Miss Emma’s kitchen table with Reverend Ambrose and his aunt. Emma bursts into... (full context)
Chapter 17
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The Friday of the week that Grant visits Miss Emma’s house, he goes to see Jefferson at the jailhouse. Before Friday, however,... (full context)
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On Friday, Grant goes through the usual search process before he enters Jefferson’s cell. As Paul walks him... (full context)
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Paul leaves Grant with Jefferson. Grant offers Jefferson food, but Jefferson says he isn’t hungry; Grant leaves the... (full context)
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Grant and Jefferson continue to talk. Jefferson threatens to scream and insult Vivian if Grant stays... (full context)
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Paul leads Grant out of the jail cell. In the front office, Grant notices the sheriff and the... (full context)
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Back in the jailhouse, Guidry finishes telling Grant about his wife’s request for chairs. He asks Frank and the deputy, named Clark, if... (full context)
Chapter 18
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After talking with Grant, the sheriff goes to Jefferson’s cell and asks him if he wants to appear before... (full context)
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Grant goes to see Jefferson in the dayroom a few days after Jefferson sees Miss Emma.... (full context)
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Grant tells Jefferson that he has a moral obligation to be good to his aunt. Jefferson... (full context)
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After talking to Jefferson at the jail, Grant goes to the Rainbow Club and has a few beers. He waits for Vivian to... (full context)
Chapter 19
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It is the night of the annual Christmas program that Grant has been organizing all month. Grant has told the children that this year’s Christmas program... (full context)
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Grant has put together the Christmas play using materials donated by various members of the community,... (full context)
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At seven o’clock, Grant announces the beginning of the program, and invites Reverend Ambrose to walk out onstage to... (full context)
Chapter 20
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It is late February, and Grant is busy grading student papers when Farrell Jarreau rushes into his classroom to tell him... (full context)
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While the end of the school day is still an hour away, Grant leaves school to go to Pichot’s house, telling Irene to take care of the children... (full context)
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...room of Pichot’s house, Pichot and Sheriff Guidry stand by the fireplace. Pichot looks worried, Grant thinks, but he invites Grant and the Reverend to sit down. The sheriff tells both... (full context)
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...drive through the quarter will be safe and clean. As he talks on the phone, Grant thinks of the injustice of twelve white people saying a black man must die, and... (full context)
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Ambrose and Grant leave Pichot’s house, escorted out by a tearful Inez. Ambrose says that they must show... (full context)
Chapter 21
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Grant is standing in front of Miss Emma’s house following the events of the last chapter.... (full context)
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At home, Grant heats up food for himself, and is surprised to hear Vivian arrive outside. She tells... (full context)
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Grant walks into Miss Emma’s and introduces Vivian to those who haven’t already met her. Tante... (full context)
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Grant and Vivian decide to leave Miss Emma’s house and go to the Rainbow Club. Twenty... (full context)
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Grant continues to explain his theory of women to Vivian. Lou, he reveals, is his grandmother’s... (full context)
Chapter 22
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Grant has arrived at the jailhouse. Paul searches him, though they both know there is no... (full context)
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In the cell, Grant greets Jefferson and offers him food, but Jefferson shakes his head and refuses to eat.... (full context)
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Grant proposes bringing Jefferson a small radio, and Jefferson agrees, though he doesn’t show any joy... (full context)
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After leaving the jailhouse, Grant doesn’t go home. He resolves to borrow money from Vivian in order to buy Jefferson... (full context)
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With his money, Grant drives to a nearby store, where he finds a radio that gets three channels. He... (full context)
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Grant drives back to the jailhouse, where he finds Paul and the sheriff. He tells the... (full context)
Chapter 23
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...Paul goes to get Jefferson, Jefferson refuses to go to the dayroom without his radio. Grant later learns that Jefferson hasn’t turned off his radio since the Friday when Paul brought... (full context)
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...stresses that he doesn’t want trouble with the prisoner before his execution, and says that Grant needs to be involved. He also threatens to take the radio if there are any... (full context)
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After returning from the jailhouse, Tante Lou, Miss Emma, and Ambrose visit Grant and tell him that he’s caused a problem by bringing Jefferson a radio. They explain... (full context)
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Grant continues to argue with Ambrose, Miss Emma, and Tante Lou. He tells them that his... (full context)
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The Wednesday after his conversation with Ambrose Grant visits Jefferson again. The previous day, he enlisted his schoolchildren to pick pecans for Jefferson,... (full context)
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In the jailhouse, Grant greets Jefferson and offers him the food and entertainment he’s brought. Jefferson remains silent, but... (full context)
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Grant asks Jefferson about Lou, Emma, and Ambrose’s last visit. He asks Jefferson to promise that... (full context)
Chapter 24
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Miss Emma proposes that Grant go to the jailhouse with Lou and Ambrose as often as possible, and though Grant... (full context)
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...Paul isn’t present; instead, the chief deputy escorts them to the dayroom without saying anything. Grant asks where Paul is, and when the chief deputy replies, he calls him “Mr. Paul,”... (full context)
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...Jefferson doesn’t respond when Miss Emma shows him the food she’s brought, but he answers Grant when Grant greets him. The group eats gumbo together, and Grant almost forgets to say... (full context)
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As the others eat and watch, Jefferson and Grant stand up and walk slowly around the dayroom, with Jefferson in shackles. Grant tells Jefferson... (full context)
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As they pace around the dayroom, Grant tells Jefferson more about what he wants him to do. Whites believe in the myth... (full context)
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Grant sees that Jefferson has been crying softly as Grant has been speaking. Nevertheless, Grant tells... (full context)
Chapter 25
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After visiting Jefferson, Ambrose, Lou, and Emma drive back to their homes, and Grant goes to the Rainbow Club to tell Vivian that he is making progress with Jefferson.... (full context)
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It is mid-afternoon when Grant arrives at the Rainbow Club. He thinks that his sex life with Vivian hasn’t been... (full context)
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Grant thinks about the mulattoes he knows. Because they are half-white, they despise “niggers,” avoiding them... (full context)
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A fight breaks out between Grant and the two mulatto bricklayers. Joe Claiborne attempts to break up the fight, yelling that... (full context)
Chapter 26
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After Vivian leads Grant out of the Rainbow Club, she asks him what happened. Grant explains that Claiborne must... (full context)
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Because Grant is injured, Vivian insists that he stay with her that night. Grant objects, because Vivian’s... (full context)
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Vivian takes Grant to her home, gives him a towel for his head, and fixes him a meal... (full context)
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Angry and frustrated that Vivian’s divorce will be difficult and lengthy, Grant prepares to leave Vivian’s house, not wanting to leave any further evidence of their affair.... (full context)
Chapter 27
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It is a Sunday, and Grant is sitting in his bed. Emma, Lou, and Ambrose have just arrived at his house,... (full context)
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Ambrose enters the room; though Grant invites him to sit, he says that he prefers to stand. He makes some small... (full context)
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Grant is annoyed with Ambrose, and gets up to leave. As he does so, Ambrose puts... (full context)
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Ambrose proposes that Grant tell Jefferson about heaven, even though he doesn’t believe it to be real. Grant refuses... (full context)
Chapter 28
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Grant walks to Jefferson’s cell, carrying a bag of sweet potatoes. He greets Jefferson, and Jefferson... (full context)
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Grant tells Jefferson that he should talk to Reverend Ambrose. Jefferson replies that on his last... (full context)
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As Grant tells Jefferson about his beliefs, Jefferson gets up from his bed and walks to the... (full context)
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...his cell. He says that the view is the prettiest he’s ever seen. He asks Grant what his death will feel like, and Grant replies that it will be quick—he has... (full context)
Chapter 29
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...he walks to a door and then wakes up. Jefferson writes in the notebook to Grant, saying that he has no idea what to write in his notebook. (full context)
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In his next entry, Jefferson describes a visit Grant organized, so that most of the children in his classroom came to the jailhouse to... (full context)
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Jefferson uses his diary to apologize to Grant for insulting Vivian. He describes the visit Grant and Vivian make to see him after... (full context)
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...the music on the radio because it’s for the living, not the dead. He thanks Grant for being good to him and tells him to tell the community that he’s been... (full context)
Chapter 30
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Chapter 30 is written in Grant’s point of view, along with many others. Grant describes Sidney deRogers, a local worker who’s... (full context)
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...witnesses to the execution to be present at the courthouse by eleven thirty. Vivian and Grant spend the night at the Rainbow Club—it’s both quieter and more full than he’s ever... (full context)
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...wishes this day had never come. He tells Edna, his wife, that he spoke to Grant earlier, and asked him if he would be a witness at the execution; Grant declined... (full context)
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...to leave the cell. As Paul locks the cell door, Jefferson asks Paul to give Grant his diary and Pichot his knife and gold chain; Paul says that he will. Jefferson... (full context)
Chapter 31
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It is the morning of execution, and Grant is teaching his students as usual. He tells them that they’ll be dismissed early to... (full context)
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Grant walks around to the back of the church and thinks about the time he spent... (full context)
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Grant wonders if God is with Jefferson. God is with Ambrose, he is certain, because Ambrose... (full context)
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Shortly before noon, the children return from their homes, and Grant instructs them to get down on their hands and knees and silently pray until Grant... (full context)
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As Grant walks farther from the church, he looks at Henri Pichot’s enormous house. Grant thinks that... (full context)
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Grant looks at Henri Pichot’s house and wonders why Pichot hasn’t come outside. He notices a... (full context)
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Grant walks back to the church. When he is almost back, a car drives by. The... (full context)
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Paul tells Grant that Grant is an excellent teacher, but Grant denies this—one must believe to be a... (full context)
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Paul offers Grant his friendship. He shakes hands with Grant and tells him to tell his students that... (full context)