Social Hierarchy In A Lesson Before Dying

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In the Novel “A Lesson Before Dying” by Ernest J. Gaines shows the discrimination between the African Americans, the Whites, and the Mulattos are based on a social hierarchy. This is shown in different chapters among the Novel and will be explained in detail.

Firstly, at the beginning of the novel “A Lesson Before Dying” we automatically read in the first couple of chapters that the Black ethnicity is at the bottom of the social hierarchy. One of the main scenes that comes to mind during the book is when Miss Emma, Tante Lou, and Grant go to see Mr. Henri Pichot. “No, sir, I did not,” I said. He was finished talking to me. Now he wanted me to look away. I lowered my eyes.” (pg. 21). What is quite interesting about this passage is that Grant knows he is smarter than Henri Pichot, “I was too educated for Henri Pichot;” yet he still obeys the proper way of being a Black person talking to a White person. Another example of the social hierarchy that was
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Antoine, had told him. We see how Grant spectates and criticize these young kids even though they have no idea what the real world has in store for them. Even though that they are kids it isn’t such a bad way of thinking because later on, “They are acting exactly as the old men did earlier. They are fifty years younger.” (pg. 62). This shows Grant’s thoughts on his perspective of what these kids are going to end up being in a couple of years. Likewise to what Grant said, shows us that even if him being a teacher forces him to teach these adolescents to be literate unlike most of the old African Americans during the time. Grant is one of the only Black people to realize that the way of the Social rankings aren’t going to change by themselves if all the African Americans act like it is normal to be treated with such arrogance by the higher class
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