Dying Self-Worth In A Lesson Before Dying

777 Words4 Pages
Self-worth is a value many people struggle with, rarely appreciate, and often, forget to fully understand. Its importance is undeniable, though, and the ability to express it is crucial to living successfully in many degrading societies. The intense strains that come with valuing one’s self are continually displayed in the novel, A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines. In the novel, two of the main characters, Grant and Jefferson, have constant, internal battles of how to fully appreciate themselves. They both have different, unique struggles, and only by being placed in extremely emotional and complex situations are they able to come to terms with who they really are. Through thoughtful reflection and passionate determination, the connection of these two characters creates a heightened sense of worth that makes them a valuable and contributing part of society.
Jefferson is a young, black man who is put on death row, because he was at the wrong place at the wrong time. He did not kill any men, yet the white jury is convinced he is guilty of all charges. During his trial, his lawyer states, “What justice would there be to take this life? Why, I would just as soon put a hog in the electric chair as this” (Gaines 8). This completely alters Jefferson’s belief in himself. By
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He is completely against a request that his aunt, Tante Lou, asks of him. Since he is an educated man, Tante Lou wants him to visit the local jail and speak with Jefferson. Grant is very skeptical, saying, “He’s dead now. All I can do is try to keep the others from ending up like this—but he’s gone from us. There’s nothing I can do anymore” (Gaines 14). He does not believe in his ability to make a difference in Jefferson’s life. However, his highly persuasive aunt presents this opportunity to him, and despite his hesitation, he remains loyal to her and goes to the jail cell weekly for six
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