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A Lesson Before Dying Chapter 23

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 23 of 'A Lesson Before Dying', Grant gets into a confrontation and almost gets slapped. Afterward, he has a chat with Jefferson to see if he can fix the situation. In this lesson, we will take a look at the conflict and the attempt to repair it.

The Radio

In Chapter 22, Grant bought Jefferson a radio. In this chapter, we find that the radio is very important to Jefferson. He listens to it day and night, and the prisoners who are near his cell can also hear the radio. Jefferson loves his radio so much that when Miss Emma goes to visit him, he refuses to leave the cell because he is not allowed to take the radio with him. Even though Miss Emma had set up a meal in the dayroom, she has to move it all to Jefferson's cell.

The narrator doesn't tell us exactly what happened, but when the deputy goes to open the cell and let Miss Emma, Reverend Ambrose and Grant's aunt out of the cell, Jefferson is lying on the bed with his back to the crowd, and the radio is off. As soon as his visitors leave, he turns the radio back on. As they leave, they are told that the sheriff wants to see them. He tells the visitors that if the radio is causing any trouble, he will remove it. Miss Emma tells him that the radio is fine.

The Sin Box

Grant is finishing class when a student tells him that Miss Emma wants to see him. Grant heads over and finds Reverend Ambrose, Miss Emma and his aunt sitting at the table waiting for him. They are all mad at him for buying the radio.

Reverend Ambrose says that all Jefferson wants to do is sit and listen to the radio. Grant argues that there is nothing wrong with the radio and that Jefferson needs something to do in the cell. Reverend Ambrose argues that what Jefferson needs is God, not that ''sin box.'' Grant tells the reverend that he doesn't care about his opinion. His aunt almost slaps him, but doesn't.

Grant tells the group that the radio is the only way to reach Jefferson. He explains that his previous visit was the first time that Jefferson did not seem to blame him for being in jail. It was the first time that Jefferson didn't glare at Grant with hatred. So for now, the radio is what he needs.

Grant reveals that Jefferson also asked for a gallon of ice cream for his last meal. He then admits that he does not know about Jefferson's soul, but for now, he deserves to be comfortable. Grant tells them that the only thing keeping Jefferson from seeing himself as a hog is the radio. ''Take that radio away, and let's see what you can do for the soul of a hog,'' Grant tells them.

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