Grant Wiggins is the narrator of Lesson Before
Jefferson is on trial for the alleged murder and
robbery of Mr. Gropé.
The jury members were all white.
The story is located in Bayonne, Louisiana
during the late 1940s.
He focused most his time on trying to prove that
Jefferson was too stupid to have done the crime, rather than proving that
Jefferson did not do it.
Jefferson is deemed guilty of murdering and
robbing Mr. Gropé. The judge will later sentence Jefferson to death via
When Grant gets home, his Aunt and Miss Emma are
waiting there for him.
They wanted Grant to go with them to the prison
and try to make Jefferson not think that he is a hog.
Grant reacts angrily at the idea.
He knows that arguing with his Aunt and Miss
Emma would be useless.
Grant hates being in Bayonne and the job he has
been given. With the first-person point-of-view we can see the conflict within
Grant and how he changes throughout the story.
Miss Emma had served Henri Pichot as a cook for
him. She tries to use this as a way to persuade Henry to let Grant go to
Grant used to run errands for his Aunt at the
plantation and after leaving for college he promised himself to never return
Grant lowers his eyes when talking to Henry
Pichot as to not show any signs of disrespect and make Pichot feel that he is
the one in charge.
At the end of the chapter, Pichot agrees to talk
with his brother-in-law, but doesn’t promise anything.
He despises how his aunt is making him help
Jefferson and goes to Bayonne to eat as a way to insult her.
There are separate bathrooms between the white
people and the colored.
We learn that Vivian is Grant’s girlfriend and
is in the middle of a divorce with her husband.
Some questions he
asks Vivian are, “Do I know what a man is?” and “Am I supposed
to tell someone how to die who has never lived?” Yes, I believe that he asks
himself the same questions.
She starts to cry because she feels overwhelmed
from all the questions and everything going on.
Grant’s school is in a church, using the benches
as desks for the students.
He would yell at them and/or hit them with a ruler.
They lead hard lives as they can only be in
school for a limited time and must work in the fields during harvest seasons.
He lectures them about the situation with
Jefferson and the futility with it.
He is given a message to meet with Henri Pichot
He arrives at 4:50 and doesn’t actually get to
talk to them until around 7:30.
Grant is trying to show his respect and that Pichot
is of a higher stature than him.
The bet is that Mr. Louis will give Pichot a
case of whiskey if he doesn’t let Grant see Jefferson.
Grant is determining whether he should act
stupid or smart to the two men. His main difficulty is if he is capable of
Grant is allowed to visit from 10 pm to 4 pm and
that nothing dangerous is allowed.
He is afraid that his students aren’t good
enough for the superintendent.
Dr. Joseph is looking at the children’s hygiene
when his own hygiene is lacking at the same time.