Review of ‘A Lesson before Dying’ By Earnest Gaines

A Lesson before Dying is a novel written by Earnest Gaines. Jeffrey Folks criticizes the idea presented by Earnest Gaines in his novel “A Lesson before Dying” on the concept of communal responsibility. Jeffrey Folks bases his criticism on the sentencing and conviction of Jefferson.

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According to Jeffrey Folks, Earnest Gaines relied on meditation in presenting his ethical and historical facts in A Lesson before Dying. Jeffrey Folks largely focused on Jefferson’s conviction and sentencing. Jefferson, who is portrayed as an innocent black man, is unfairly convicted and sentenced by an unjust white community.

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Criticism of Earnest Gaines’ A Lesson before Dying

Jeffrey Folks criticizes Gaines for unrealistically over representing the ideas of racism and discrimination of the African American. This overrepresentation occurs in the case of Jefferson and the capital punishment for which he is wrongly sentenced.

Notably, Jeffrey commends the writing style used by Earnest Gaines in the novel. However, he criticizes the style as lacking modernism and postmodernism. Jeffrey Folks notes that this shortcoming is common to a majority of similar novels written during that period.

I agree with the critique and argument of Jeffrey Folks. Truly, Earnest Gaines presented capital punishment as a problem that is cultural. This was achieved by pitting the black African community against the whites.

In A Lesson before Dying, Earnest Gaines treats capital punishment as a manifestation of the cultural problem that is rooted in American history (pg. 261). However, this is not accurate.

Worth noting, black people were not the only ones who were unjustly sentenced to capital punishments. Equally, whites suffered the injustice during the period indicated in the novel.

Additionally, Jeffrey Folks compares the writing style used by Earnest Gaines in A Lesson before Dying and other similar novels. Moreover, this comparison is also made on the use of language by the writer.

Jeffrey notes that nearly all critics of A Lesson before Dying have recognized its clarity and simplicity. However, it has not been understood how this style functions “in opposition to a body of modernist and postmodernist writing” (pg263).

In that regard, Jeffrey Folks argues that Earnest Gaines’ style of writing demonstrates simplicity and clarity. Unfortunately, it falls short of reflecting the modern and the postmodern style of writing.”

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Jeffrey, F. (n.d.). Communal responsibility in Earnest Gaines a lesson before dying.

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