Heroism In A Lesson Before Dying

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Defining heroism is a daunting task as the notion of heroism is unduly egocentric. However, in Ernest Gaines’s novel, A Lesson Before Dying, the character Grant Wiggins displays a myriad of heroic traits that shows how altruistic he truly is. The novel begins with Grant being a cynical and selfish person, nonetheless, he proves to be an epitome of heroism as trials test him in several manners. During the time that he visits Jefferson in jail, he reveals perseverance, compassion, and selflessness.
Throughout Gaines’s novel, Grant Wiggins shows his perseverance transcendentally well; namely when Grant was given the arduous undertaking of making Jefferson walk to the electrocution chair proudly. Grant has to do this due to Jefferson being equated
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Grant tends to show his compassion more indirectly throughout the novel. It is clear that he respects and cares for Jefferson, such as when he tells him “You have the chance of being bigger that anyone who has ever lived on that plantation” (193), Grant lets Jefferson see how he views him as a man by saying this. Although Grant thought little of Jefferson at first, he grew to care about him as a friend. His compassion guides him to make valiant choices that others would not make; for instance, when Grant brought Jefferson a notebook and pencil, it was seen as a futile endeavor by the sheriff, but to Jefferson, this small gift symbolizes Grant’s solicitude.
In the novel, Grant’s selflessness reveals itself unconditionally. He puts all his desires aside to help Jefferson become a man. His goal requires him to set aside his plans and other goals to benefit someone else. Grant does not believe that he is heroic or selfless, which can be seen when he tells Jefferson “A hero is someone who does something for other people.” (191), nevertheless, he contradicts himself by alleviating Jefferson’s bleak future, doing this requires him to abstain from being inconsiderate. Without being as magnanimous as he is, Grant could not have helped Jefferson as he
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