Of Racial Injustice In Ernest Gaines A Lesson Before Dying

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A Lesson Before Dying, by Ernest J Gaines, is a story about a wrongfully accused colored man and his teacher, who both learn the lesson of strength in the face of racial discrimination. In A Lesson Before Dying, the author uses the plot to indicate that racial injustice can be a huge social hurdle for people of different racial backgrounds. One way this is seen is when the teacher, Grant, is compelled by his aunt to visit the sheriff and request that they be able to visit Jefferson, the accused, in his cell. After Grant waits for a long time, he sees the sheriff. “’Been waiting long?’ Sam Guidry asked me. ‘About two and a half hours, sir,’ I said. I was supposed to say, ‘Not long,’ and I was supposed to grin; but I didn’t do either” (47). During…show more content…
This inequality and racist attitudes were a huge barrier for colored people—the fact that they couldn’t even express themselves created a feeling of inferiority and is clearly examined during the plot of this story. Along with this, another way that the author shows us racial injustice and how it was a barrier is through the climax of the story. Grant thinks to himself about the injustice of the white men over Jefferson and says: “They sentence you to death because you were at the wrong place at the wrong time, with no proof that you had anything at all to do with the crime other than being there when it happened. Yet six months later they come and unlock your cage and tell you, We, us white folks all, have decided it’s time for you to die, because this is the convenient place and time” (158). This quote is from the climax of the plot, when Jefferson’s execution date is simply stated to Grant, and it shows the deep racism that whites had for African Americans. Earlier on in the story, readers discovered that Jefferson was not the murderer, yet a panel of twelve white judges sentence him to an execution without any
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