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A Lesson Before Dying Chapter 9

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 9 of 'A Lesson Before Dying,' Grant and Miss Emma finally get to speak with Jefferson. The trip does not go as planned, and Miss Emma walks away in tears.

Road Trip!

You know that moment when you think you have yourself prepared for something, say a job interview, but nothing goes as planned. Well, Grant Wiggins if feeling that way as he makes his first trip to see Jefferson in Chapter 9 of A Lesson Before Dying.

Grant leaves his school at 1:30 to get Tante Lou and Miss Emma, but only Miss Emma goes. They are heading to Bayonne to visit Jefferson in his jail cell. Miss Emma is not speaking to Grant because she knows that he really doesn't want to be involved. They drive in silence, and Grant does not wave to the people he passes on the street.

When they arrive at the courthouse, Grant tells us that ''it looked like a small castle you might see in the countryside somewhere in Europe.'' Miss Emma and Grant get out of the car and enter the courthouse. They tell the official that they are there to see Jefferson. As they wait, a young deputy orders one of the black prisoners, who is about 15 or 16, to scrub the basement toilets and to have it done before he leaves. This leads Grant to reflect on the sorry state of the basement bathrooms that are designated for blacks.

Jefferson's Cell

The deputies go through everything Miss Emma brought and also ask Grant to empty his pockets before patting him down. After they are searched, one of the deputies, Paul, leads Miss Emma and Grant to Jefferson's cell. On the way, they pass the other prison cells where the men behind bars ask for cigarettes and money. Grant gives them his change, and Miss Emma tells the men that if there is any food left over after her visit with Jefferson, she will give it to them. When they enter his cell, Jefferson is laying on his bed.

Miss Emma tries to speak with Jefferson, her godson. She asks him how he is doing, but he just stares up at the ceiling. It isn't until Miss Emma takes out a piece of chicken and holds it up for Jefferson that he speaks. He simply says, ''It don't matter.'' Miss Emma continues trying to coax Jefferson with food. He asks her when they are doing to do it, and Miss Emma pretends that she doesn't know what he is talking about.

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