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A Lesson Before Dying Chapter 11

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 11 of '~'A Lesson Before Dying,'~' Grant goes to see Jefferson by himself. The past meetings have been unsuccessful, but that was when Miss Emma came along. In this lesson, we will take a look at how things go down when it is just Grant and Jefferson in the cell together.

A White Lie

If you have ever had to lie to protect someone's feelings, you can probably relate to Grant's plans in Chapter 11 of A Lesson Before Dying. You may have lied about a friend's appearance or abilities in order to prevent them from feeling hurt. When Grant visits Jefferson in this chapter, he knows that the way Jefferson behaves -- calling himself a hog and refusing to speak -- would hurt his godmother very deeply. Grant tells Jefferson that he will lie to her in order to protect his ''nannan's'' feelings.

Grant's Visit

In this Chapter, Grant goes to visit Jefferson by himself. Normally, Grant visits with Miss Emma. As with previous visits, the deputies go through everything he brought and also make Grant empty out his pockets. The deputy asks Grant if he thinks he is making any progress and reminds him that at the first sign of ''aggravation'' the visits will stop. Just like before, Grant and the deputy walk to Jefferson's cell. He is used to the trip now and tells us ''By now I could probably have done this with my eyes shut.'' Just as before, Grant gives his change to the young prisoners he passes along the way.

When Grant enters the cell, he finds Jefferson sitting with his head down. He tells the boy that his godmother is feeling sick and wont be able to make it. Jefferson does not react. Grant asks him if he is hungry, and Jefferson asks for corn since ''That's what hogs eat.'' Grant tells him that there isn't any corn, and he is not a hog. Grant asks him when he last ate, and Jefferson evades the question. Grant realizes that Jefferson is playing mind games and tells Jefferson to try the food since it will make his godmother happy. Jefferson tells him that hogs don't eat candy. Again, Grant reminds Jefferson that he is not a hog.

Grant and Jefferson Sit in Silence

Since Grant is hungry, he asks Jefferson if he can have some of his chicken and when he gets no answer, he begins to eat some of it. Grant observes that Jefferson's godmother ''sure can cook.'' Jefferson responds by saying ''That's for youmans.'' Grant tells Jefferson that he is a human being. Jefferson argues back, saying ''Youmans don't stay in no stall like this. I'm a old hog they fattening up to kill.'' After this, Jefferson shoves his face in the bag of food and imitates eating like hog.

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