A Lesson Before Dying

Time period:  late 1940s
Setting: a fictious town called Bayonne in Louisiana

KNOW THE AUTHOR
          An Interview with Ernest J. Gaines   (20 minutes)

SOURCES
          Britannica
          SIRS Decades
          Gale Virtual Reference Library (GVRL)
          Louisiana History
          Opposing Viewpoints
          Witness to Innocence
           U.S. History in Context

ADDITIONAL SITES:
Jim Crow Laws
Freedom: A History of Us – Jackie Robinson
Civil Rights Movement Images – Kodak Gallery
Reconstruction and Tenant Farming
All About Cajun Culture

SEARCH TERMS (use these keywords to assist you with your research)
civil rights:    Jim Crow Laws    |    racism    |    segregation
Louisiana:  cultural environment   |    political environment   |   religious environment    |    plantations (during the 1940s)    |    sharecropping
African American culture:    Louisiana     |   women    |    Cajun  influences    |    African influences
capital punishment:    pros and cons    |    death penalty

GLOSSARY
bloodweed:A kind of deep red flower originally from Africa, also known as the blood lily
chifforobe:A combination dresser and wardrobe, with drawers and space to hang clothes
Creole:A term used for a person of mixed African-American and European descent. In Louisiana at this time, the term referred to people of black and, specifically, Cajun French heritage.
cush-cush:A type of yam grown in the American tropics
derrick:A crane used to lift heavy weights or hold machinery
favor:In the Cajun dialect of the characters, “favor” means “resemble” when used as a verb.
filé:A spice made from sassafras leaves, often used to make gumbo
grinding:As one of the last steps in pecan farming, the people in the quarter grind pecans for packaging and sale
gumbo: A spiced Cajun soup, made with meat and rice
Je t’aime:French for “I love you”
nannan: The Cajun word for godmother
Old Forester: A brand of bourbon
parain: The Cajun word for godfather
Parish   Louisiana is divided into 64 parishes, similar to county
praline: Homemade candy made with pecans and cooked brown sugar
Quarter: generally referred to an area where the African Americans lived, their “living quarters”
ragball: A modified version of football, played with a ball made of rags
roast nyers: The characters’ way of pronouncing “roasting ears” of corn, which Jefferson asks Miss Emma to bring him.
sharecroppers: : a tenant farmer especially in the southern United States who is provided with credit for seed, tools, living quarters, and food, who works the land, and who receives an agreed share of the value of the crop minus charges
tante: The French and Cajun word for aunt
trusty: An assistant guard at the jail
wool-gathered: daydreaming
youman: Jefferson’s way of pronouncing the word “human”