A Lesson Before Dying

why wasnt grant at the execution?

what made him not go

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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. Grant couldn't find the strength when, perhaps, Jefferson needed him most. 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.