A Lesson Before Dying

Explain the irony about Dr. Joseph looking at the students’ mouths and teeth.

Located in chapter 7

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In the weeks before Grant’s first visit to Jefferson, the superintendent of schools, Dr. Joseph Morgan, comes to visit Grant’s classroom. He spends a great deal of time quizzing the students about their lessons and inspecting their hygiene and dental health, a scene that Grant finds ironic. He wryly likens the doctor's visit to a slave trader examining his purchases at an auction. As he leaves, Dr. Morgan commends Grant but advises him to spend more time drilling the students on the Pledge of Allegiance and teaching them about hygiene. Grant attempts to bring up the fact that the school is short on books, but the superintendent brushes off his complaints, saying that the white schools are in the same situation.