A Lesson Before Dying: 10 Great Essay Topics

A good essay on a book presupposes not only deep knowledge of its plot, but also much effort and inspiration. A key to successful writing is choosing an apt theme which is really interesting for you and can impress the reader. However, it’s not always easy to choose such a topic. If you are stuck with it, the prompts below might come in handy. These are some topics which can become a good beginning of a remarkable essay:

  1. 1. The hero of the story.
  2. Describe the main character of the novel: his social background, personality and evolution. To make your essay more interesting, compare how the author depicts Jefferson and how you personally see him. Express your attitude towards Jefferson.

  3. 2. The setting of The Lesson Before Dying.
  4. Describe the time and the place where the story takes place. Point out the peculiarities of that period. What was the status of African Americans in the South at that time? Use the text to give examples.

  5. 3. The symbolism of the title.
  6. Explain how the title of the novel summarizes its main idea. What does it symbolize? Give your own variants.

  7. 4. The problem of racism in America.
  8. Analyze the theme of racism raised in the novel. Why did the concept of racism arise and who is to blame? What is your attitude to it?

  9. 5. The tragedy of a man with different skin color in a white society.
  10. What difficulties did African Americans face at that time? What were they caused by? Who was to blame: the African Americans themselves or Americans? Give your reasons.

  11. 6. The inner and outer conflict of the main character.
  12. Analyze the novel and define what conflicts the main character faces. What are these conflicts caused by? How did society of that time influence the hero of the story?

  13. 7. The problem of a person in the wrong place at the wrong time.
  14. Decide whether the problem really takes place in the novel. How does the author raise it? Give similar examples from other pieces of literature.

  15. 8. The symbols of the novel.
  16. In this essay, you are supposed to analyze the symbolical plane of the novel. Explain what meanings have the symbols. Give examples from the text.

  17. 9. Jefferson: from a “hog” to a “man”.
  18. Describe the development Jefferson’s personality throughout the novel. How did he change? Give your reasons.

  19. 10. The lessons of the novel.
  20. In this essay, discuss the lessons learned by the main character Jefferson throughout the novel. What lesson would you give to him?