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ERIC Number: ED454560
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2000-Feb
Pages: 46
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: N/A
ISSN: N/A
Setting the Record Straight in Ernest Gaines's "A Lesson Before Dying."
Michalos, Constantina
Literature seeks to recover the "facts" and fill in the gaps of knowledge as it enunciates the truth of existence. Nowhere is this more apparent than in African-American literature, where history and art are inextricably linked, where the personal truly is political. Throughout the history of the United States, the institution of slavery and subsequent policies of segregation have tainted the official record. But there was a concomitant, alternate record--the oral and written African-American tradition. Complicating matters, however, was the actual form of this tradition. Spirituals, sermons, letters, diaries, slave narratives as autobiography did not conform to the established, i.e., White male definition of literature. This paper, noting that the African-American literary tradition provides a cultural and historical record of the struggle for survival, freedom and equality, contends that African-American literature, besides striving to delight and teach, is committed to setting the record straight. To show an example of the African-American struggle, the paper gives a detailed analysis of a contemporary novel, "A Lesson Before Dying," by Ernest Gaines, which revolves around a murder--the result of the protagonist's being in the wrong place at the wrong time--and the degradation of racism in the South. The paper states that Gaines can be described as an author who gives voice to individuals silenced by history. Includes 41 notes. (NKA)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Reports - Evaluative; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A