A Lesson Before Dying

What has the author done in this chapter to increase the tension in this section?

Chapter 30

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By refraining from directly describing Jefferson’s death, Gaines increases the drama and power of the moment while also implicating the reader in Grant’s cowardice. Grant expresses regret and shame that he was unable to walk with Jefferson to the electric chair, admitting that despite his pride, it turned out that Reverend Ambrose was actually stronger than him. By concealing the moment from the reader and instead depicting the reactions of the townspeople, Gaines places the reader in the same position as Grant, unable to achieve the closure that would come with directly “witnessing” the execution. This lack of closure reflects the experience for Jefferson’s family and friends, who will never fully heal, as well as the lack of closure for the real people that went through similar situations.