A Lesson Before Dying

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What is the most damaging piece of evidence for Jefferson?

chapters 1-2

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Jefferson says that he accepted a ride from two older acquaintances, Bear and Brother, who hoped that Jefferson could lend them some money to buy a drink. Jefferson had no money, so they went to Gropé’s store, hoping he would give them some wine on credit. Gropé refused, and Bear, already drunk, attacked the storekeeper. A scuffle ensued, with Brother, Bear, and Gropé dead. Jefferson, unsure what to do, took a bottle of whiskey and some cash from the register and tried to run away, but two white men entering the store caught him and took him to the police. Although there is no evidence against Jefferson and his court-appointed attorney makes a logical and articulate defense, it is no use because Jefferson is black and Alcee Gropé was white.