Imagine being in a situation where there are a limited number of options and your life can only go in one direction. Has this ever happened to you? Either way, this is the predicament that the character of Jefferson faces in A Lesson Before Dying, who is sentenced to death for crimes that he did not commit. Although Jefferson has only thirty days left to live, he learns three valuable lessons that he carries with him into his final hours. This includes learning to open up to the people closest to him, showing kindness and love to those who have shown kindness to him, and finding self-worth in the age of Jim-Crow.
In Ernest Gaines’ novel, A Lesson Before Dying, the author uses a third person point of view to assess the issue of racial injustice in the South during the 1940’s. Grant understands that justice is evaluated unfairly and knows that it does not favor the poor and uneducated black man. Due to Grant’s ability to be able to understand others, he successfully learns how to bring justice, while assisting Jefferson. This presents the audience the significance of the novel as a whole, embracing responsibility and facing injustice. Grant feels as if he shouldn’t feel obligated or pressured to help bring justice to Jefferson.
No matter who a person is or what others think of him or her, that person will always have the opportunity to change for the better; Nobody has the power to tell a person what he or she can or cannot do. In the novel, A Lesson Before Dying, by Ernest J. Gaines, the protagonist, Jefferson discovers that he could change as a whole person and finally become a man, even under difficult circumstances. He is constantly discriminated and does not feel welcomed to the society. Throughout the majority of the novel, Jefferson believes he is his own stereotype and takes it to heart when he is being called a hog. Although he knows he will be exiled, Jefferson and his family hopes for a change in his heart. Gaines’ treatment of Jefferson’s evolving character
Jail is a place no one ever wants to go. People go to jail for many reasons: robbery, murder, hate crimes, and there are people who are sitting in jail for a crime they did not commit. People have their different views on the justice system and how it works. People’s religious beliefs and personal beliefs in stereotypes play a major part in their convictions. In A Lesson before Dying Earnest Gaines reveals how different values and racism in a small community are seen through the characters Jefferson, Grant, and Tante Lou and their experiences and reactions.
A Lesson Before Dying: An Analysis of the Definition of Manhood A Lesson Before Dying is a historical novel written by Ernest J. Gaines. The novel is set in the late 1940s on a plantation in Louisiana. A young, black man known as Jefferson is wrongly convicted for murdering two white men. The main character is Grant Wiggins, a teacher at a church school. Grant is being forced by Jefferson’s Godmother, Miss Emma, to convince Jefferson that he is a man.
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.
This is shown throughout the novel by showing that in the beginning of the novel, Grant wants nothing to do with Jefferson and his situation. As the book continues, he realizes that Jefferson is a human too and that he needs to realize how good he has it compared to some people. In the beginning of A Lesson Before Dying, Grant Wiggins struggles with accepting his responsibilities. This is shown in multiple examples. The two examples used in this paper were when Grant avoids all of his responsibilities and does not want anything to do with Jefferson.
A Lesson Before Dying highlights the events surrounding the conviction and eradication of an innocent man. Prearranged in deep south during the 1940s, the book ostentatiousness many of the common racial injustices of the era. Despite the fact the book chronicles the events ultimately leading to Jefferson’s eradication, it is really more about the way Jefferson’s conviction transformed and modified others. The book culminates with the electrocution of Jefferson, which was apperceived throughout the town. From the origination of the book the reader knows Jefferson has a ghost of a chance.
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).
In “A Lesson Before Dying”, there is a tension between how Grant sees himself and how others in his community see him. 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.
At the school, Grant is very verbally abusive to the children and ridicules them every chance he gets. Meanwhile, Jefferson just spends every day sitting quietly in his cell, with no emotion or ambition to do anything else. The contrast of the jail and the church contributes to the work by demonstrating the different lifestyles of the two men once Jefferson is thrown in jail. Grant is at first extremely opposed to trying to teach and reach out to Jefferson. He does not want anything to do with it.
Since the beginning of time there’s always been some form of struggle to break away from the grasp of someone powerful and someone who strives for power between those of mankind. This is evident all throughout history in society, even during the 1940s when this novel, A Lesson Before Dying takes place. Grant Wiggins and Sheriff Sam Guidry are prime examples of two characters that struggle to separate themselves from power and strive for power and are determined to keep themselves in power respectively. Grant is the main character of the novel with quite the cynical and depressing outlook on the South, which is the place he was born and raised. He gained this attitude of cynicism from his mentor Matthew Antoine, who felt very intense feelings
The historical fiction novel A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines, features a falsely accused black man on death row in a small Cajun community during the late 1440s. Grant Wiggins, a college educated teacher of the black community, visits Jefferson in prison, an African American convicted of murder. During his trial, he was given a death sentence while referred as a hog. With the love of his godmother, Miss Emma, who sends Grant to teach him in proving himself a man, Jefferson receives the opportunity of representing his community as he dies. Tante Lou, a close friend of Miss Emma and Grant’s aunt, provides the assurance that Grant would prove Jefferson worthy a human.
In the book our protagonist, Grant, shows clearing how society and place shapes him from day to day. In his classroom at an all black school he is the leader and is very powerful and shows no shame and back down to no one. Then when he is in the presence of white men he is automatically inferior and lets them lead. This is not only because of his personality but because of how it was the social norm for this to happen back in the 1940s. It is another disturbing and saddening case of how one race could be superior to