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A Lesson Before Dying Chapter 3

Instructor: Kimberly Myers

Kimberly has taught college writing and rhetoric and has a master's degree in Comparative Literature.

This lesson is a summary of Chapter 3 of 'A Lesson Before Dying' by Ernest J. Gaines. In this chapter, Grant drives Tante Lou and Miss Emma to Mr. Pichot's plantation. Miss Emma asks Mr. Pichot to use his influence to allow Grant to visit Jefferson in jail.

In Through the Back Door

Less than thrilled about the plan and where they are going, Grant angrily drives Tante Lou and Miss Emma to Henri Pichot's plantation. He makes sure to hit every bump so that his displeasure at being forced is clear to his aunt. After they unload, he takes them around to the back door - the door that servants use.

Both Tante Lou and Miss Emma had worked for Pichot's parents and then Henri Pichot years before. Miss Emma is hoping that Pichot will remember her years of service as a cook and agree to use his influence with the sheriff to help get Grant visitation rights with Jefferson, since Pichot is married to the sheriff's sister.

Grant also spent time on the plantation in his youth. He used to visit his aunt there and also would collect anything that Miss Emma or her needed from outside.

Before Grant went away to the university ten years earlier, his aunt sat him down and told him that she didn't ever want to see him come in Henri Pichot's back door again. She wanted him to have a different kind of life and not be reduced to having to come in through the back door. Grant has been back for almost six years, and this is the first time he has been back to Pichot's property.

Nonetheless, Inez Lane, Pichot's maid, lets the three of them in through the back door. She of course knows what happened with Jefferson's trial.

A Determined Request

Inside, Grant, Tante Lou, and Miss Emma look around and take stock of everything that has changed since they were last there. Inez goes to get Mr. Pichot, who is with a guest in another room. He reluctantly comes to see what Miss Emma wants. He tries to brush Miss Emma off quickly by telling her that he spoke up for her character before the trial and can't change the sentence, but Miss Emma then tells him what she really came for.

Mr. Pichot thinks that Grant has put Miss Emma up to the idea of letting him meet with Jefferson. He asks what the point is and recommends that Miss Emma focus on getting the reverend in to see Jefferson and to work on his salvation. Miss Emma is persistent and continually calls on Mr. Pichot to remember how much she has done for his family.

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