A Lesson Before Dying Chapter 7

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 7 of 'A Lesson Before Dying,' Grant gets an unexpected visitor. Grant prepares his students, practices with them and works hard to make sure the visit goes smoothly. However, the visit doesn't go as he expected.

An Unexpected Visitor

Imagine that someone asked you to help a person on death row. Talk about stress right. Well for Grant Wiggins, he's waiting to try to fulfill that request only to find out he is going to have an unexpected visit from the superintendent. Let's find out what happens to Grant in Chapter 7 in A Lesson Before Dying.

The Superintendent Arrives

As the chapter opens, Grant tells us that as he is waiting to visit Jefferson, he finds out the superintendent is coming for a yearly visit. He works with his students preparing them for the visit, making sure they are on their best behavior. Grant even gets a student to serve as lookout and tell Grant if the superintendent's car is spotted heading towards the classroom. The superintendent arrives on Thursday.

The superintendent, Dr. Joseph, is a heavy man who has a hard time getting out of his car as well as up the three stairs leading to the classroom. Dr. Joseph examines the students and inspects one girl's hands and then asks her if she has studied her Bible verses. When she says she has, Dr. Joseph sends her back to her seat. He then inspects another student. Grant tells us that it was ''the one boy in class who I wished had stayed home today.'' He came from a large family and fought all the time. His hands are dirty, and he isn't able to perform the pledge of allegiance correctly.


Dr. Joseph continues his inspections and even examines the children's teeth. Grant remembers reading about ''slave masters who had done the same when buying new slaves.'' Grant observes that at least Dr. Joseph let the kids open their own mouths instead of using a crude instrument to do it for them. Sarcastically, he adds, ''I appreciated his humanitarianism.''

When Dr. Joseph heads out of the classroom, Grant regrets drilling the students so hard for a man who could not even get his name right. Dr. Joseph calls Grant ''Higgins'' despite being told that it is ''Wiggins''. Grant reveals that Dr. Joseph has never gotten his name right, but it was closer to his correct name then it was a few years back when Dr. Joseph called him ''Washington''.

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