A Lesson Before Dying By Ernest J. Gaines

807 Words4 Pages

Throughout A Lesson before Dying, Ernest J. Gaines writes of Grant Wiggins’s two intertwined struggles to escape different powers in his life. Once Grant Wiggins accepts the power of his responsibilities, a larger power looms over him; racism. The book opens with Grant Wiggins recalling a trial, where a young black man, Jefferson, was wrongfully accused of murder. In an attempt to free his client, Jefferson’s lawyer refers to Jefferson as a mindless hog, who could not have known what he was doing. The case was lost, and Jefferson was sentenced to death by the judge. To the black community of the town, it was simply another unfortunate perpetuation of racial prejudices. In the mid-twentieth century south, it seemed African Americans would …show more content…

Grant resents the idea of being burdened with this, and so begins his struggle to free himself from the power of his education. Although he relishes in the fact that he is more knowledgeable than many in his town; both black and white, Grant resists using his education in a way that might relieve the thing he hates most: the persistent racism present in his hometown. Although he has a fiery internal rage against the prejudices that keep him and others that look like him suppressed, he remains silent, because his fear of failure is even larger. After alienating himself from his community so long as a result of his higher education, he fears that once he tries to apply his wisdom and knowledge for a greater good, he will fail. At that time, Grant could not bear the thought of he, Grant Wiggins, not being a man better and more capable than the others in his town. However, powerless against his aunt’s persistence and his lover’s encouragement, he agrees to go to the jail and speak to Jefferson. At the beginning of Grant’s visits, Jefferson resents and jeers at Grant and his other visitors by mimicking a hog. Grant remained distant and pessimistic about his task, as not to become too involved in case he did not succeed in making Jefferson a proud man before he is killed. However, as Grant continues to go,

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