Racism In A Lesson Before Dying

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“What justice would there be to take this life? Justice, gentleman? Why, I would just as soon put a hog in the electric chair as this.” (Gaines 8). In the novel, A Lesson Before Dying, Jefferson’s attorney focuses his entire defense on the basis that Jefferson was too stupid to plan a robbery or murder. He goes as far as to compare Jefferson to a hog and refer to him as “that.“ This was common at the time; white men saw black men only as slaves even though the war had ended years before. Former slaves and their families lived on the plantations with the only difference to slavery being that they were paid (near nothing wages). In the story, racism is prominently portrayed as it was in the Deep South in the 1940’s. Ernest Gaines used his…show more content…
He is the school teacher of the Quarter, so he is not only looked down on for being black, but educated also. As an educated man, he demands respect from even the white men, so he has a hard time playing into the role of an obedient black man. When Tante Lou makes Grant go “up the quarter” with her and Miss Emma to visit Henri Pichot, they have to go in through the side entrance to get to the house for it’s the only entrance that leads from the quarter to the house. They then had to go in through the back door like slaves had before the war years before. After university, he felt above it all. Mr. Pichot made a point to show his superiority when they wanted to talk to them. Grant says, “ Oh, yes, I keep forgetting that, Mr. Henri won 't come to see me.” (Gaines 18) It was tradition at the time that white people wouldn’t come to see black people. Another source states, “the educated and disgruntled Grant Wiggins cannot muster enough self-confidence to challenge the white sheriff who treats him as if he were barely human”(Harris). The sheriff, Sam Guidry, never fails to remind Grant that he’ll always be just another black man from the quarter, and he’s “too smart for his own good” (Novels for
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