A lesson before dying by Ernest J.Gaines
Grant Wiggins, the first member of his family to attend university, has returned to his hometown of Bayonne, Louisiana to teach in the plantation school. When a former student, a simple-minded young man named Jefferson, is sentenced to die after getting mixed up with some bad company that killed a white shopkeeper but were killed themselves in the gun battle, the doomed boy's mother asks Wiggins to visit the kid in jail and make him realize he's not just an animal but a man, before he dies.
Wiggins does not want this task, but his aunt Lou, with whom he lives, insists. The teacher has to negotiate the gauntlet between suspicious, unsympathetic white jailers and an unresponsive, ungrateful "pupil." This beautiful, heartfelt novel skilfully brings to life a time and a place, and depicts the subtleties and hypocrisies of race relations, the limits and consolations of faith, and the emotional process of putting a man to death."
Grant who is a very selfish character is nervous to speak with Jefferson because he doesn't want to get close to someone who is going to die. Grant's aunt forces him to visit Jefferson and by the third visit Grant is making progress with him.
Grant has evolved as a character and grown very close to Jefferson over the months awaiting his execution. When the day of the execution arrives, Grant makes his class at school kneels until he receives word from the courthouse that the execution is complete. Finally the final word is in that Jefferson is dead.