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A Lesson Before Dying Chapter 10

Instructor: Bryan Cowing

Bryan is a freelance writer who specializes in literature. He has worked as an English instructor, editor and writer for the past 10 years.

In Chapter 10, of 'A Lesson Before Dying,' Grant is expected to do something he really does want any part of. When he makes this discovery, he lashes out making his feelings known. In this lesson, we'll take a look at what has Grant so upset.

Faking It

Have you ever faked an illness to get out of doing something? If so, you may be able relate to Miss Emma. On the other hand, if you've ever seen through someone's act when they are trying to avoid something, you'll probably relate more to Grant. Confused? Let's see what's happening in Chapter 10 of A Lesson Before Dying.

Same Stuff, Different Day

So the next two visits to Jefferson's jail cell are as unproductive as the first one. Grant, our narrator, tells us that the routine is always the same. Miss Emma and him travel to the courthouse. When they get there, the deputies go through their belongings and then lead them down the hall to Jefferson's cell. Along the way, they pass other inmates, and Grant gives them the change he has in his pocket, while Miss Emma promises to give them the food if Jefferson doesn't eat it. Each time, Jefferson doesn't say much, and after an hour, they leave. Miss Emma cries every time.

Miss Emma's Illness

When it is time for their fourth visit, Grant pulls up to Miss Emma's door and waits. Usually, she waits for him outside, but not this time. He tries to sit patiently, but finally lays on the horn out of frustration. Grant's aunt comes out of the house and tells Grant that Miss Emma can't go today because she is sick. When Grant comes inside, he sees Miss Emma sitting by the fireplace. Grant has his doubts as to whether or not she is actually sick. He tells us ''I had seen her that morning picking up chips in the yard, and she didn't look sick at all. And now I could smell fried chicken and baked potato, and I knew she could not have done all that if she was dying.''

Grant waits for someone to speak, and finally his aunt tells him that the food is waiting. Grant tells her that even though Miss Emma is ''dying,'' his aunt can still come with him. She tells him that she doesn't have her good dress on. Grant offers to wait, but his aunt really just wants him to go on his own.

Irritated, Grant realizes ''that this had been planned from the beginning. All that other stuff I went through was to lead up to this day. Going up to Pichot's house, meeting the sheriff, the three visits to the jail with her--all that was nothing but preparation for today.'' In other words, the two women have been in on the plan to make Grant go to the jail cell on his own.

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