A Lesson Before Dying is a moral novel written by Ernest J. Gaines, and it explores themes of human dignity, alienation, and loneliness. While it does not shy away from political topics, it avoids oversimplifying the issue of morality by focusing on individual situations. For instance, Jefferson, a witness to two liquor store shootings, ends up emptying the cash register of one of them. This act of generosity shows the character’s humanity, and it also makes him sympathetic to Miss Emma’s cause. There are many characters in the novel, including Henri Pichot and his family. His family includes his aunt, who raised him for reasons unknown to them. She also worked in the Pichot household during her youth, and now works in the garden, supporting the other members of the Pichot family. Grant’s family also includes Miss Emma, a beautiful mulatto girl who lives on a plantation with her family. She is a schoolteacher who encourages her students, but has two children of her own. Her divorce from her first husband prevents her from eloping with Grant. Grant’s novel has received many accolades. It won the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction in 1993 and was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. It was also chosen for Oprah’s Book Club in 1997. The novel begins with Henri Pichot summoning Grant to his house at five o’clock, but Grant doesn’t arrive until 7:30. He is later visited by Dr. Joseph Morgan, who had called Grant Higgins before.