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A Lesson Before Dying Chapter 24

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 24 of 'A Lesson Before Dying', Grant, Reverend Ambrose, Grant's aunt and Miss Emma go to visit Jefferson. Grant and Jefferson have a heart-to-heart, and it seems like things are going to change.

Group Visit

Chapter 24 starts with Grant heading out to visit Jefferson again. This time, it will be different, because Grant, Reverend Ambrose, Grant's aunt and Miss Emma are all going to be there. In the past, it was either Grant or the other three, not all of them at once.

On the way to the courthouse, Grant stops to get a notebook and pencil, which he promised to bring Jefferson on his last visit. Stopping to get these items makes him late, and Reverend Ambrose and Grant's aunt seem angry at him. Grant does not explain why he is late; he just goes into the courthouse with them.

The troop enters the dayroom and waits for Jefferson. Grant tells us that before you could see Jefferson, ''you could hear the chains around his ankles.'' When Jefferson arrives, Grant sits down and starts to eat. When he realizes he is the only one eating, he realizes that Reverend Ambrose expects everyone to pray first. As the reverend prays, we get a glimpse of Grant's lack of care about religion. He tells us, ''all I was thinking about was the gumbo getting cold.'' When the prayer ends, everyone says amen except for Jefferson, who also does not eat.

Grant and Jefferson Go for a Walk

As Grant, the reverend and Grant's aunt eat, Miss Emma tries to get a few words out of Jefferson. He tells her that he isn't hungry. Grant asks Jefferson if he liked the nuts that he brought on the last visit, and Jefferson says that he ate some of them. Grant then asks if there's anything Jefferson would like to talk about. Jefferson nods, so Grant suggests that the two of them go for a walk. Even though he doesn't say anything, Jefferson stands up to signal that he would like to take a walk.

As the two walk, Grant tells Jefferson that it would mean a lot if he would eat some of Miss Emma's gumbo. Jefferson agrees to do this. Grant talks to Jefferson about what it means to be a hero. He admits that he is not a hero. He is a teacher, and he doesn't even like teaching. He does it because it is ''the only thing that an educated black man can do in the South today.''

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