A LESSON BEFORE DYING BOOK PDF

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A LESSON BEFORE DYING NOTES including • Life and Background of the 17 what he sees as a death of black manhood — another theme in this book. The National Endowment for the Arts. 3. Introduction to the Book. Ernest J. Gaines's A Lesson. Before Dying () poses one of the most universal questions. Rich Dad's Before You Quit Your Job: Ten Real-life Lessons. 28 Pages·· Praise for A Lesson Before Dying. About the Author Rich Dad's Guide to Investing-Robert bestthing.info Pdfdrive:hope Give books away. Get books you .


A Lesson Before Dying Book Pdf

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Praise. “This majestic, moving novel is an instant classic, a book that will be read, discussed and taught beyond the rest of our lives.” —Chicago Tribune. From the author of A Gathering of Old Men and The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman comes a deep and compassionate novel, winner of the National Book. A Lesson Before Dying - Download as Word Doc .doc /.docx), PDF File .pdf), Text File .txt) or read online.

And although Grant resents Dr. Morgan, who communicates largely in terms of grunts and groans; Dr. Morgan does not really see or hear Grant during the visit; rather, he sees and hears only what he wants to. As he watches the two old men unloading the wood and the young boys chopping and stacking it, he recalls doing the same thing when he was a student, and he wonders if there is anything that he can do to break the cycle of poverty and violence which has claimed the lives of so many of his friends.

As before, Jefferson is sullen and unresponsive, and Miss Emma leaves in tears, asking the deputy to distribute the leftover food among the other inmates. The next time Grant stops by to pick up Miss Emma, she insists that she is too sick to travel.

A Lesson Before Dying

When Grant arrives for his first solo visit with Jefferson Chapter 11 , Sheriff Guidry is there to meet him instead of the chief deputy. Then, as Grant watches in amazement, Jefferson gets down on his hands and knees, puts his head inside the bag of food, and proceeds to show him how a hog eats.

Not wanting the sheriff to know that his visit has been unsuccessful, Grant decides to stay until the end of his allotted hour, half-heartedly attempting to engage Jefferson in conversation. Upon leaving, he tells Jefferson that he will tell Miss Emma how much he Jefferson enjoyed her food.

As Paul escorts Grant back to the office, they talk briefly about Jefferson. At the club, he finds Joe Claiborne and two old men discussing their current hero, Jackie Robinson.

Traditionally a symbol of justice and democracy, here it is a bastion of institutional racism. As indicated by the statue of the Confederate soldier and the Confederate flag in front of the courthouse, the justice dispensed here does not apply to black Americans.

With its separate but unequal facilities, the courthouse symbolizes the racist white power structure of the Jim Crow South. The scene between the white chief deputy and the young black prisoner illustrates the contempt of Southern racist whites toward Southern blacks.

By doing so, he steps outside his official role as a white authority figure and demonstrates his compassion. The emphasis on the legal ritual at the courthouse suggests that this ritual is just as significant as the rituals at the plantation school described in Chapters 7 and 8. Note that while both Grant and Miss Emma quickly adjust to the routine, it disrupts their normal, everyday rituals. Food as a source of physical and spiritual nourishment is also a key motif reinforced here.

It also alludes to the actual behavior of enslaved blacks in response to their inhumane treatment. This was called mush.

It was put into a large wooden tray or trough, and set down upon the ground. The children were then called, like so many pigs, and like so many pigs they would come and devour the mush; some with oyster shells, others with pieces of shingle, some with naked hands, and none with spoons. Instead, he retreats to the solace of the Rainbow Club.

These heroes are often sports figures and entertainers whose unique talents have enabled them to achieve fame and financial success despite the racial and economic barriers that deny oppressed blacks the opportunity to achieve success in more conventional arenas.

Grant realizes that, by celebrating the accomplishments of their sports heroes and claiming them as representative members of the black community, the old men are celebrating and claiming their own sense of manhood and imagining the heights to which they, too, might aspire, since their heroes have demonstrated that, despite seemingly impossible odds, success is possible. This section also explores some key issues concerning teachers and teaching. Anderson, helped him obtain a copy of an anthology that included the story.

He also recalls that, after reading and rereading the story, he could not find in it the universality that the Irishman talked about. Years later, he realizes that the story about a group of old Irishmen who meet to discuss politics and praise their dead hero, Parnell is universal because it parallels the experiences of countless old men he sees who meet in bars and barbershops, on street corners, and in the quarter to talk about their heroes.

As his mind drifts back to Jefferson and his impending execution, Grant recalls reading about the execution of a boy in Florida who pleaded for Joe Louis to save him as he was being dragged to the electric chair. Anderson, indicate that these men also had an impact on him, which he is only now beginning to acknowledge. The fact that Vivian teaches French suggests not only that she values knowledge and culture, but that she envisions her students as having a future that transcends the limits of their impoverished physical environment.

Chapter 8. In , Robinson became the first African American to play in the major leagues when he signed a contract with the Brooklyn Dodgers.

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He was also the first black to win the Most Valuable Player award, the first to play in a major league World Series, and the first to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. For many blacks, Jackie Robinson symbolized a triumph in the fight for racial integration. In , Louis regained his heavyweight title, defeating Schmeling in the first round of their fight. Ambrose the previous Friday. His daydreams are interrupted by a knock at his door, and he is pleasantly surprised to find that Vivian has come to visit.

Grant and Vivian talk, have coffee and cake, then slip off to the cane fields to make love. When Grant introduces Vivian, the women, taking their cues from Tante Lou, give her a cool reception.

While Grant makes fresh coffee, Tante Lou interrogates Vivian about her social and academic background and her religious beliefs. Music — in the form of spirituals — permeates this section, emphasizing the vital part that music and the black church play in the lives of Tante Lou and her friends.

Spirituals are the basis of the blues, another traditionally African-American musical form, and blues are the secular equivalent of spirituals. Music is also a form of language and expression, pointing to the creative impulses of the black community that 31 could not be silenced. This section also refers to two other rituals: the visits with Jefferson which have disrupted the former rituals of several community members, including Grant, Miss Emma, Tante Lou, and Rev.

Ambrose and the ritual of baptism. In Chapter 13, when Miss Emma asks Grant about his visit with Jefferson, he tells her what he thinks she wants to hear in order to spare her feelings. But when Rev. Note that Grant, who considers himself superior to both Jefferson and Rev. Ambrose due to his education, emphasizes the differences between himself and the reverend. But Rev. Ambrose, in pointing out that he baptized both Grant and Jefferson, emphasizes the similarities between the two.

Ambrose is concerned with his spiritual needs the Bible. This chapter also draws attention to the universal conflict between faith and reason. Grant is an agnostic, not an atheist. This doubt — a direct result of his education — causes him to experience existential pain: What is the purpose of his life, and where can he best fulfill that purpose while staying true to himself and his heritage? For Tante Lou, the church defines her existence. For Grant, it represents white oppression.

Grant Wiggins faces is the plight of an educated man who feels trapped in his community. He could stay and be beaten down or run away and be lost. This theme is also emphasized in subsequent chapters. The powerful nature imagery of the cane fields establishes the relationship of black Americans to the land that made them what they are.

The concept of a people intimately connected to the earth is often traced to the biblical Creation story, which states that man was created from the earth and tells the story of Adam and Eve and their sons, Cain and Abel. Consequently Grant, who in previous chapters revealed his hatred of whites, has decidedly had a change of heart. According to the Bible, Paul was the first great missionary and theologian in Christian history. As a devout Jew notorious for his persecution of Christians, Saul of Tarsus later renamed Paul heard the voice of Jesus and was blinded by a bright light from heaven.

After several days, his sight was restored by a Christian. As a result of his profound experience, Paul became a devout Christian. He was eventually imprisoned for his faith and died a martyr. But whereas the men talked about the past and dreamed about the accomplishments of their heroes, the women talk about the future and the dreams they have for their families.

Washington men associated with the struggle for civil rights and black liberation. Douglass , a former slave born Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey , became a famous orator who spoke out against the horrors of slavery; Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation freeing the slaves, although he admitted doing so not primarily because he believed that slavery was morally wrong but because he sought to preserve the Union; Washington is best known for his conservative, conciliatory views concerning the role of blacks in America.

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Birds are a common symbol for the soul. Xavier University is a historically black and Catholic affiliated university. Ambrose are with her. After offering him some coffee, Miss Emma asks him why he lied to her concerning his last visit with Jefferson. Instead of admitting that he lied to protect her feelings, Grant insists that he told the truth, even after Miss Emma tells him that she had to hit Jefferson.

Instead, he remains silent, hoping to avoid further confrontation. But does he? He is, in effect, denying any connection between himself and Jefferson, thereby attempting to absolve himself of any responsibility in the matter.

In short, he seems totally oblivious to the fact that Jefferson is not only one of his former students and a friend of the family, but he is also a fellow black man and a member of the black community — a person who has experienced the same kind of racism and bigotry that Grant himself has experienced. He feels no racial or communal kinship toward Jefferson. In essence, he sees himself as being in a totally different class.

Traditionally a celebration of feasting before the beginning of Lent, it has now become secularized. When Grant goes to visit Jefferson, Paul Bonin, the young deputy, suggests they call each other by name.

During his visit, Grant tries to impress upon Jefferson that he has a responsibility toward his godmother. This time, he refuses to let Jefferson get away with his crude, uncivilized behavior.

Instead of ignoring his insults, he lets him know that his behavior is unacceptable and challenges him to act like a man. As Grant prepares to leave the courthouse, Paul tells him that Sheriff Guidry wants to see him.

Ambrose have been to visit his wife to ask if they could visit Jefferson in a more comfortable room. Although initially angry because he thinks Grant has put them up to it, the sheriff eventually calms down and decides to let Jefferson choose whether he wants to meet his visitors in his cell or in the dayroom.

Ambrose visit Jefferson, they meet him in the dayroom. During his next visit, Grant also meets Jefferson in the 37 dayroom. This time, Jefferson attempts to initiate a conversation concerning his impending execution, but Grant quickly changes the subject. But when Jefferson attempts to slip back into his subhuman attitude and behavior, Grant once again challenges him, and then tries to teach him a lesson about moral obligation.

These two chapters mark a decided change in the relationships among several characters. Note that all the changes begin with personal conversations between two individuals. Also note that although the changes ultimately take place among the men, it is the women Edna Guidry, Miss Emma, Tante Lou, and Vivian who provide much of the catalyst for change. Chapter 17 consists of a series of conversations between Grant and Paul, Grant and Jefferson, and Grant and Sheriff Guidry, respectively. The first conversation between Grant and Paul marks a change in the relationship between the two men when Paul introduces himself and suggests he and Grant address each other by name.

It also foreshadows a shift in the relationship between blacks and whites, manifested in the Civil Rights movement. The second conversation between Grant and Jefferson begins to break down the defensive wall that Jefferson has built around himself, thus leading him toward a growing awareness of himself as a human being worthy of dignity and respect. The third conversation between Grant and Sheriff Guidry marks a subtle change between Grant and Sheriff Guidry, and a significant change between Sheriff Guidry and Jefferson: For the first time, the sheriff ignores the advice of his colleagues when he decides to give Jefferson a choice about whether he will meet his visitors in his cell or in the dayroom.

Grant is also undergoing profound changes: Despite his attempt to remain detached and uninvolved, he begins to have dreams in which he is the one about to be executed.

In Chapter 18, Grant and Jefferson begin to communicate on a personal level. Having gained the freedom to choose, he begins to see himself as a human being. In effect, Jefferson begins to exercise control over his mind and thoughts.

Even though he is shackled and can take only small steps, he is not only beginning to stand, but to walk and move towards awareness, self-knowledge, and spiritual freedom. After Rev. Instead of joining them, Grant sits on a chair inside the pulpit, where he eats alone and looks past the talking, laughing people to the little pine Christmas tree and the lone gift for Jefferson leaning against a tub.

Grant stands alone; his mind is on past Christmas programs and on Jefferson. Even though he thinks that this program is like all the rest, he realizes that it is very different. Even though Jefferson is not physically present, his presence is felt by others. Grant, however, has not yet reconciled himself to his community. He still stands alone, not yet accepting his responsibility to stand for and with his community. We learn that the people are materially poor but spiritually rich.

They are proud, hard-working people who love, support, and protect each other. Generous and willing to share what little they have with others, their simple needs and basic values include their A Lesson Before Dying Character Web Paul a young deputy; he befriends Grant and witnesses Jefferson's execution emotionally act like sisters Miss Emma acts as Jefferson's surrogate mother frie Tante Lou acts as Grant's surrogate mother nds Vivian an elementary school teacher; unlike Grant, she believes a person can make a difference Henri Pichot plantation owner Jefferson 21 years old; condemned to die for supposedly killing a white man er vis d la ua t i r i sp al d an als s riv foe s lov represents master-slave mentality toward acts as an older brother toward Grant a disillusioned school teacher teaches Grant how who tries to instill a sense of pride to "kneel and stand" and self-worth in Jefferson Reverend Mose Ambrose chastises Grant for not being concerned with Jefferson's soul tu ec ff ine 42 families, their community, and their need for spiritual nourishment.

They have family and relationship problems and are dealing with them as best as they can. Painfully aware of the violence and racism surrounding them, they have chosen not to allow the evil of the outside world to overshadow their joy of living. After offering them coffee, Inez tells the two men that the sheriff is due to arrive shortly. Several minutes later, she returns to inform them that the sheriff has arrived and that he and Pichot want to meet with them in the front parlor.

As soon as Grant and Rev. Sid Gilroy to look after her when he gets back to town. As the sheriff prepares to leave, Rev. Ambrose reminds him of this offer, and the sheriff calls Dr. Gilroy to arrange for a visit with Miss Emma. That evening, after stopping by the school to pick up his papers, Grant pays a brief visit to Miss Emma, then heads home to eat the food Tante Lou has prepared for him.

After dinner, Vivian comes by. After serving them coffee, Inez tells Grant that Miss Emma wants to speak to him. Ambrose will work together. After their visit, Grant and Vivian go to the Rainbow Club, where Grant reveals his pain, anger, and frustration to Vivian and tells her that it is up to Jefferson to break the vicious cycle of hopelessness and despair plaguing the black community.

When Mr. Farrell Jarreau arrives to tell Grant that he is wanted up front, Grant senses that someone is present, but he first finishes grading a paper, thinking that one of his students has come in from recess.

When Grant realizes that his visitor is Mr. He also notices that, instead of going back to work, Mr. Farrell is headed home. In describing the scene between Grant and Mr. Farrell, we realize that Mr. Even though Jefferson seems convinced that his life is worthless, his life does have meaning and value. The two chapters also continue to develop the theme of change and transformation. Note that this time, Rev.

Ambrose and Grant meet with Sheriff Guidry and Henri Pichot in the front parlor rather than in the kitchen. Ambrose, Miss Emma, and Tante Lou feels obligated to follow her example, although he does not go so far as to extend 44 the traditional Southern hospitality to the two men by offering them coffee. Note also that, once again, a woman has been instrumental in initiating change. Jefferson, a young black man, is an unwitting party to a liquor store shootout in which three men are killed; the only survivor, he is convicted of murder and sentenced to death.

Grant Wiggins has returned home from college to the plantation school to teach children whose lives promise to be not much better than Jefferson's.

As he struggles with his decision whether to stay or escape to another state, his aunt and Jefferson's godmother persuade him to visit Jefferson in his cell and impart his learning and pride to Jefferson before his death.

In the end, the two men forge a bond as they come to understand the simple heroism of resistingand defyingthe expected. In a story whose eloquence, thematic richness, and moral resonance have called forth comparisons to the work of Richard Wright, James Baldwin, and William Faulkner, Gaines summons the reader to confront the entire bitter history of black people in the Southand, by extension, America as a whole.

A Lesson Before Dying is about the ways in which people declare the value of their lives in a time and place in which those lives seemingly count for nothing.

It is about the ways in which the imprisoned may find freedom even in the moment of their death. Gaines's novel transcends its minutely evoked circumstances to address the basic predicament of what it is to be a human being, a creature striving for dignity in a universe that often denies it. The world into which Ernest James Gaines was bornon January 15, is essentially the world which he has distilled into the dense and complex world of his six novels and his stories. The black community in which Gaines grew up became "the quarter" of this novel, as well as providing the setting and social matrix of his previous works.

The author's vision of Henri Pichot's cane fields stems directly from the fields in which Gaines himself worked as a child. As Gaines has said: "Though the places in my stories and novels are imaginary ones, they are based pretty much on the place where I grew up and the surrounding areas where I worked, went to school and traveled as a child.

My characters speak the way the people speak in that area. They do the work that the people do there. Since most of my writing is about rural Louisiana, my characters are closely attached to the land. Gaines's fictive world and specific technical aspects of his works have been compared with those of William Faulkner, resemblances being remarked between the latter's Yoknapatawpha County and Gaines's plantation country.

A Lesson Before Dying.

Comparisons have also been made between Gaines and other Southern writers. Gaines has insisted, however, that his presentation of his characters owes much more to Tolstoy, Turgenev, and the other great nineteenth-century Russian writers. To whatever extent Gaines's complex social hierarchy and his portraits of those who benefit from and fall prey to that hierarchy may be compared with either Faulkner's or Tolstoy's, he has created a world and characters that are exclusively and gloriously his.

Gaines also has drawn considerably on the mores of black culture and the storytelling traditions of rural Louisiana.

The result is a prose that is at once exact, idiomatic, stately, and true to the spoken language of actual people. The serenity and epic rhythms of Gaines's prose contain and highlight the often anguished experiences and emotions of his characters. Of particular note in Gaines's novels and stories is his fidelity to a community's black and white shared ways of speaking and thinking in response to a firmly rooted history, persisting conventions, and the threat or promise of change.

MacArthur Foundation fellow , Mr. Gaines has steadily been recognized for his achievement as a master of the novel and short story.

In addition, one of his novels, The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman , has become an undisputed classic of twentieth-century American literature and gave rise to the immensely popular, award-winning TV-movie adaptation starring Cicely Tyson.

What is the pattern of point of view and focus from chapter to chapter? Is there a correspondence or symmetry among the chapters or among groups of chapters? Why does Gaines begin the novel with Jefferson's trial, verdict, and sentencing but without providing the specific names of any of those involved?

Does this presentation predispose us to accept what follows in a specific way? What is the effect of the story's being presented except for two instances near the novel's end through the mind and voice of Grant Wiggins?

Can Grant's narrative be relied upon, or must we look beyond him for a full understanding of the novel's action? Chapters 29 and 30 constitute the two instances in which material is presented from points of view other than Grant's.

Why does Gaines move away from Grant's point of view in these two penultimate chapters? In several instances, as at the beginning of Chapter 13, the narrative jumps ahead in time and Grant relates events or episodes in flashback. Why are these events and episodes not presented directly as part of the ongoing narrative? Is the time sequence of the novelfrom late October to early April two weeks after Easter of particular significance?

Why is there a jump of two months, from just before Christmas to late February, between Chapters 19 and 20? Does the novel consist of two groups of chapters: Chapters culminating in the Christmas season; Chapters culminating in the Easter season? What are the implications of such a structure?

A Lesson Before Dying

Are these questions ever answered? If so, are they answered in ways that are anticipated or unanticipated? In Chapter 26, Vivian confronts Grant with a series of questions. What are the context and import of these questions? In Chapter 28, Jefferson asks Grant a series of questions. What is the import of these questions and of Jefferson's posing them at this point in the novel?

Do these questions have any answers? What does Grant learnand with what effect on his outlook and sense of himselfabout himself and others, about his community, about the nature of belief, and about the possibilities for change and improvement?

What ironies are implicit in the fact that the uneducated, deprived, barely literate, condemned victim becomes the focus of the dreams, aspirations, and desires of all the other characters? To which character or characters does the "lesson" of the novel's title apply? Does more than one lesson emerge in the course of the novel? Why is the title of the book not "Lessons Before Dying"? Character and Conflict 1. How would you characterize Grant Wiggins's relationships with, attitude toward, and behavior with each of the other main characters, black and white?

What does each of these relationships reveal about Grant and about the racially structured society in which he lives? How would you characterize the relationships among the novel's other main characters? Does Paul Bonin's behavior vis-a-vis Jefferson and Grantin contrast to that of Clarkesignify an improvement in white attitudes toward blacks from one generation to another?

What is the significance, in Chapter 17 exactly halfway through the novel , of Paul's introducing himself to Grant by his full name and, at the very end of the novel, extending his hand in friendship and the offer of assistance? Why do Miss Emma and Tante Lou, in Chapter 17, go to the sheriff's wife with their request rather than directly to the sheriff himself?

Is there a protocol that requires the black characters to address certain requests to white women and others to white men?

Guidry of all that she has done for their families over the years? What do Jefferson's diary entries Chapter 29 reveal about him, before and after his trial, and about his understanding of his and his fellow blacks' lives and their relationships with whites, and of his own fate?

Can this chapter be seen as a summing up of the main themes and the main action of the novel? Do Tante Lou, Miss Emma, and Vivian represent positive qualities that are exclusive to the black women of the quarter? Do any black men in the novel share these qualities? Why do Miss Emma and Tante Lou insist that Grant visit Jefferson in the parish jail and teach him how to die like a man?

Why don't they rely solely on Reverend Ambrose? How would you characterize Grant's approach to and treatment of his students in the early chapters? Does his treatment of them change in the course of the novel? At the end of Chapter 12, Vivian offers to Grant an explanation of his not "running away. What does her explanation reveal about her and about her understanding of Grant and of his situation?

What conflicts are at work in the novel? How do they provide a context for, or shape the decisions and actions of, the characters? What are the terms and implications of the conflict between what Jefferson wants before he dies and what each of the others wants for and of him?

How is this conflict related to the novel's other dominant conflicts? Jefferson's final spoken words to Grant, at the end of Chapter 28, are "I'm all right, Mr. In Chapter 27, what does the conversation between Reverend Ambrose and Grant reveal about each and about the lives of their people? Are Reverend Ambrose's accusations true and just? Is he justified in lying to his congregation, as he admits he has done over the years?

What levels of meaning and import are established in this dialogue? Setting and Society 1. What details does Gaines provide to establish the identity and significance of the quarter and its history, the plantation, Bayonne, and the surrounding county? What details reveal white expectations concerning blacks, black expectations concerning whites, and the resulting behavior of individuals in each group? Citing specific characters or groups of characters as illustrations, can you map the society of the novel?

How is the social world of the novel structured? What and who determines that structure?

A Lesson Before Dying.

How do various blacks and whites claim, sanction, and enforce these social strata? In Chapter 6, why does Pichot keep Grant waiting for "nearly two and a half hours"?

Why does Grant wait? What does this scene reveal about the relationships among blacks and whites in Louisiana, the South, and the nation in the late s? How does Gaines provide a sense of the lives and work of the people of the quarter, of their living conditions, and of their activities?

What is the range of their activities and their lives? What elements of setting are emphasized? Are these elements presented in and of themselves, as contributing to a sense of setting, or in association with specific characters or groups of characters? What is the significance of the name of the Rainbow Club? How does Gaines establish the unchanging ways of the two communities, black and white?

What details of individual lives and of communal life contribute to the lack of change? In Chapter 3, Grant notices that some things in Pichot's house have changed since heGrantwas last there as a boy, and that some things have not changed.

What has changed and what has not? Does Grant's observation take in material objects only? Are there other instances in which Grant calls our attention to things that have changed or remained the same? How does the layout of Bayonne correspond with that of the plantation and with the structure of society in St.

Raphael Parish? More than once, in connection with a kindness or word of understanding from Paul Bonin, Grant comments that Paul "had come from good stock.

Themes and Motifs 1. What are the dominant themes of the novel and how are they worked out in terms of the characters and their words and actions? What issues of justice and civil rights are raised by Jefferson's trial, imprisonment, and execution? How do these issues relate to the wider issue of capital punishment? What does the remarkable attendance at the school's Christmas program indicate about the quarter's attitude toward Jefferson and his situation, and about their own lives?

What small, specific actions and expressions of the white characters reveal their deep-seated racism e.Note that, at this point, he has relinquished his Westcott ruler, indicating that, through his relationship with Jefferson, he, too, has been transformed from a bitter, cynical man to a caring, compassionate teacher.

Hoping to avoid them, he hurries to his room and pretends to be engrossed in grading papers, but his aunt follows him and chides him for not speaking to her friend.

Why is there a jump of two months, from just before Christmas to late February, between Chapters 19 and 20? Ambrose exemplifies a minister who is truly dedicated to serving others. This opinion will intensify in the course of the next years and the reader recognizes that a kind of resignation about the profession as a teacher has taken a hold of him during the years to follow.

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