A Lesson Before Dying


Ernest Gaines

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The defense attorney Character Analysis

The white attorney who is charged with the task of defending Jefferson from execution for the crime of killing Alcee Gropé. The attorney paints a picture of Jefferson that Grant, Emma, and Reverend Ambrose spend the remainder of the novel refuting: he calls Jefferson an animal and a “hog,” and tries to convince the jury to spare his life on the grounds that it’s immoral to kill a mere animal. For much of the novel, Jefferson believes the defense attorney’s words, calling himself a hog and behaving like one.

The defense attorney Quotes in A Lesson Before Dying

The A Lesson Before Dying quotes below are all either spoken by The defense attorney or refer to The defense attorney. 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 numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Vintage edition of A Lesson Before Dying published in 1994.
Chapter 1 Quotes

Why, I would just as soon put a hog in the electric chair as this.

Related Characters: The defense attorney (speaker), Jefferson
Page Number: 8
Explanation and Analysis:
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The defense attorney Character Timeline in A Lesson Before Dying

The timeline below shows where the character The defense attorney appears in A Lesson Before Dying. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Racism Theme Icon
Roots, Connections, and Morality Theme Icon
The defense attorney argues that Jefferson was in the wrong place at the wrong time. He wasn’t involved... (full context)
Chapter 2
Education Theme Icon
Heroism and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Women and Femininity Theme Icon
...with the exception of Jefferson, who called her “Nannan.” Miss Emma tells Grant that the defense attorney called Jefferson a hog. She tells Grant that she wants him to teach Jefferson to... (full context)