Fear In A Lesson Before Dying

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It is human nature for people to want to run away from their problems instead of facing them. In the novel A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest Gaines, Grant Wiggins states his desire to run away from Bayonne and start a new life for himself on multiple occasions. The expectations that have been forced onto Grant and his own personal beliefs contribute to his desire to escape. Grant wants to leave Bayonne because of the expectations that the women in the quarter have for him and all the other black men. Grant complains about this to Vivian when he says, “We black men have failed to protect our women since the time of slavery...it is too heavy a burden because of all the others who have run away and left their burdens behind. So he, too, must…show more content…
When Grant asks Mathew Antoine how to be a man in the South, he replies with, “What do I know about life? I stayed here. You have to go away to know about life. There’s no life here. There’s nothing but ignorance here. You want to know about life? Well, it’s too late. Forget it. Just go on and be the nigger you were born to be, but forget about life" (Gaines Chapter 8). Antoine confirms Grant's impression that in order to experience a life free of regret and full of happiness, then he must leave the South. Antoine convinces Grant that his only options are to run away from his problems and attempt to create a new life for himself, or to stay in the South and be continually beaten up by the white racists. When Grant visits Mathew Antoine on his deathbed, Grant asks him for advice as a teacher, and he responds with, “'It doesn’t matter anymore,' he said. 'Just do the best you can. But it won’t matter'" (Gaines Chapter 8). Grant was optimistic and truly believed that as a teacher he could shape the minds of children and make a real difference, but these feelings are crushed when Antoine says there is no point in trying and that Grant will fail. The black inferiority that is constantly shown to the children is something that Antoine believes and eventually even Grant believes cannot be changed. Antoine's firm belief that blacks cannot be successful is passed on to Grant ultimately making Grant want to escape because he believes that there is nothing he can do. He feels that it is impossible for blacks to succeed due to society's belief that black people are inferior and incapable of
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