Study Questions for A Lesson Before Dying  

Chunk 1

1.       What is the name of the defendant?

a.       Jefferson

2.       For what is he on trial?  

a.       Murder and robbery

3.       What is the verdict?

a.       Death by electrocution

4.       What is the sentence?

a.       Death by electrocution

5.       Contrast the portrait that is painted of Jefferson. How does the prosecution present him? How does the defense present him?

a.       Defense:  innocent by way of lack of intelligence enough to understand what happened; it would be like killing a hog.  Prosecution: the murder and robbery were done with intent.

6.       What is Grant’s occupation?

a.       Teacher of the only black school

7.       Who are the two women?

a.       Jefferson’s grandmother Miss Emma Glenn (Nannan) and Grant’s Tante Lou, his aunt

8.       What do they want Grant to do?

a.       Help Jefferson die like a man.

9.       Why do they need permission from the Sheriff for what they want Grant to do?

a.       Only the sheriff can approve visitors to a condemned man.

10.   Why does Grant say that Jefferson is already dead?

a.       There is no hope for parole or appeal for a black man accused of killing a white man.

11.   Why does Grant not want to go through the backdoor of Mr. Henri’s house?

a.       Only servants and subservient workers go through the back door.  Tante Lou gave him a college education so he would never HAVE to go through any back door.

12.   What does Miss Emma ask Mr. Henri to do?

a.       Allow Grant to teach Jefferson that he isn’t a hog, but rather a man.

13.   The church is the meeting place for what?

a.       The black kids’school

14.   Where is Grant ordered to report?

a.       Henri Pichot’s house

15.   How long does Grant wait before getting to see the men?

a.       Two and one half hours.

16.   How did Grant act that was insulting to the white men?

a.       Intelligent; doesn’t follow the “rules;” acts “too smart for his own good.”

Chunk 2

1.       When Grant begins to speak of his teacher, Matthew Antoine, what does he say he wanted from the teacher that other students didn’t?

a.        To learn as much as Mr. Antoine could teach him

2.       What does Antoine say Grant should do?

a.       Runaway

3.       Where is Grant taking Miss Emma? Why?

a.       Bayonne to see Jefferson

4.       What does Miss Emma bring for Jefferson?

a.       Food and clean clothes

5.       What question does Jefferson have for his aunt?

a.       When are they going to execute him?

6.       What question does he have for Grant?  Is he the one who will “jerk the switch”?

a.       Will Grant be the one to execute him?

7.       When Grant visits Jefferson alone, why does Jefferson say, "That’s what hogs eat."

a.       Asks Grant if the food he brought to his cell from his Nannan is corn; he is already stripped of any connection to being a man.

8.       About what does Reverend Ambrose want to know?

a.       If Jefferson’s soul is saved

Chunk 3:

 Reverend Ambrose tells Jefferson to do what?

Put his faith in God

        In what manner does Miss Emma go about setting the table?

The same way she would have done at home

Before they see him, what do they hear?

The chains

        Did Jefferson say anything during his first visit to the dayroom? Eat anything?


When Grant visits Jefferson about what does Jefferson say he wants to talk?

The chair