A Lesson Before Dying tells the story ofÂ Jefferson, an innocent young man, who is condemned to death in backwoods Louisiana in 1948. At the trial his lawyer, trying to save his life, calling him no more a human being than a hog. In prison, he acts like one, insisting that he will be dragged like that hog to his death in the electric chair. His godmother asks a schoolteacher to teach him to die like a man. The teacher, Grant Wiggins, struggling to quit his poor parish school and leave the South, faces both Jefferson and himself as execution day arrives. Ernest J. Gaines’ celebrated novel makes an engrossing, moving and finally devastating play for the stage.