Identity In A Lesson Before Dying

1276 Words6 Pages
People always suggest others to be themselves. To not care about what others have to say about you. People try to ignore society 's opinion about them, not realizing the importance it plays in identity. For a person to feel identified, they must have similarities or differences, and some type of involvement. Identity involves a combination of how you see yourself and how others see you. How others see you is influenced by material, social, and physical constraints. This causes a tension between how much control you have in constructing your own identity and how much control or constraint is exercised over you. How we see ourselves and how others see us differ in many ways, but is an important factor of our identity. “A Lesson Before Dying”,…show more content…
Grant has gone to a University and is now a teacher in the quarter where he grew up. To his community, Grant is the most educated person in the quarter and is constantly being admired by them. Most of the admiration comes from Miss Emma in hopes that Grant can transform Jefferson into a man before he is executed. Miss Emma states, “I want the teacher visit my boy. I want the teacher make him know he’s not a hog, he’s a man” (pg. 20-21). Miss Emma constantly refers to Grant saying “you are the teacher” (pg. 13) putting him in a higher position than everyone else. Considering that he is the only educated black man in the quarter, the community hopes that Grant is the person that can make a change for them. Everyone believed Grant was a great teacher, he however, does not believe he is doing anything to help his community. He is full of doubt and disappointment. Grant thought to himself, “What am I doing? Am I reaching them at all? They are acting exactly as the old men did earlier. They are fifty years younger, maybe more, but doing the same things those old men did who never attended school a day in their lives. Is it just a vicious circle? Am I doing anything?” (pg. 62). Grant does not believe in himself, nor does he think he is a successful teacher. Later on, Paul, a white deputy, recognizes Grant’s ability to positively influence the people around…show more content…
Dee has always been ashamed of her African culture and family. Dee would prefer that her mother and sister look different and that her home would be nicer. Her mother always knew how Dee felt about her, “My daughter would want me to be a hundred pounds lighter, my skin like an uncooked barley pancake. But that is a mistake” (par. 6). Dee has returned from college to visit her family, but with a different attitude. In attempts to reconnect with her African roots, Dee has changed her name to Wangero Leewanika Kemanjo. Dee has also taken an interest in embracing her African heritage and has dressed in traditional African clothes to visit her mother. Her mother knows that Dee’s intentions are not genuine. Worrying more about taking pictures of her mother and collecting items that represent the African culture to take back home, Dee neglects to spend time with her family. Her mother notices that Dee, “Lines up picture after picture of me sitting there in front of the house with Maggie cowering behind me. She never takes a shot without making sure the house is included” (par. 22). Dee’s mother realizes that she is trying to be someone she is not. Before leaving to college Dee’s mother had given her a quilt to take with her, but Dee was too embarrassed of it to take it. Now, Dee has asked her mother for it. Infuriated, her mother decided to stop Dee from continuing to
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