Character Analysis Of Jefferson In Ernest Gaines A Lesson Before Dying

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A man isn’t a boy who has hit puberty or identified as an adult at age 18. A man is someone who has the ability to provide for his family, to be able to sacrifice himself, and have pride in everything they do. But Jefferson, a central character in Ernest Gaines’ novel in A Lesson Before Dying is not a man. Gaines begins by telling the story of a 21 year old who is accused of a crime he did not commit and faces conflicts like losing his identity and manhood. Gaines uses characters like Miss Emma and Grant to help Jefferson by giving him hope to be more than just a “thing”. At his trial, Jefferson’s identity and manhood is ripped from him, but through the help of his community, he regains them, allowing him to become a hero. The novel…show more content…
Not only does Jefferson’s lawyer rip his identity but so does Henri Pichot in that he bets a case of whiskey where Jefferson will not become a man before the Friday where he will be executed. This reveals that not only does the lawyer but now Henri Pichot see him as a “thing,” that has absolutely no ability to be taught and become a man. But, Jefferson proves them wrong with the help of his community. Through the help of people in the quarter, they give Jefferson hope to regain his identity and manhood. Miss Emma raised Jefferson, therefore she is aware that he is worthy of attention and effort to make him a better man. She's the only one that needs the officers “to kill no hog….(she) wants a man,”(13) to go into that chair. Miss Emma's efforts continue because she wants Jefferson to “die with some dignity,” (49) especially since most people in the quarter can't escape the cycle. They either die or end up in jail. And, since the only thing people in the quarter have to show affection…show more content…
He sacrificed himself for others like Miss Emma. He is now a man and comprehends that “ it would mean so much to her if he would eat some of the gumbo,”(191). This represents him finally embracing the love given by Miss Emma and making “his nannan..so proud,”(195) by accepting her affection towards him. Not only by embracing her affection but now becoming a man. His last journal entry is where he wants Grant to tell Miss Emma “im strong tell them im a man…”(234). That was all Miss Emma ever wanted from the man she has raised and now will go into that chair with “some dignity,”(49). Ernest Gaines alludes Jefferson as God to represent him becoming a hero. Both were good people, both were accused of something they didn’t do, both died on a friday afternoon between noon and 3, both were executed by someone who had more power than them. Although Jefferson loses the most important things that make him a man, with effort, affection, teachings and love he regains the things that were once stripped away from him. A boy is someone who is immature and insecure in their life. The central character in Ernest Gaines’ novel, A Lesson Before Dying, is not a boy. He's a man due to his ability to accept love and provide hope for others to not give up. It has been so common to give up when things are difficult, but in the end you actually identify yourself as being a helper or the person accepting help to become a
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