The books A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines and Kindred by Octavia E. Butler are set in different time periods but you can see the theme of society and setting playing a huge role on a person’s identity. The book Kindred is set over many years in the eighteen hundreds and in nineteen seventy six. The book A Lesson Before Dying is set in the nineteen forties. In both of these books you can see how the character’s setting affects how they act. Two main motifs that show through during these time periods in that of slavery and racism. These two motifs can be seen throughout almost every chapter of each book.
It is human nature for people to want to run away from their problems instead of facing them. In the novel A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest Gaines, Grant Wiggins states his desire to run away from Bayonne and start a new life for himself on multiple occasions. The expectations that have been forced onto Grant and his own personal beliefs contribute to his desire to escape.
2. By expressing reverence for Mr. Bledsoe, who “had achieved power and authority” (101), and concerning himself with success as opposed to the fundamental racism in society, the narrator reinforces his naivety and moral immaturity. II. Bledsoe’s cold betrayal allows the narrator to glean a more heightened sense of what is right and wrong, although certain lapses in his morality still remain as he begins his life in Harlem. A.
The history of the blacks is neglected in African-Americans classrooms, resulting in the development of an inferior feeling among the blacks. In chapter two of the book, Woodson states that education in American schools drifted from the truth when it started conditioning the blacks to admire the Greeks, British, and Romans. Consequently, the African-Americans developed a belief that they have a lower intellectual ability. The mindset is still present in the contemporary United States. For instance, business started by the black people are not well received in the locality they intend to serve.
In Du Bois’ the Problem of the Color Line at the Turn of the 20th Century, he gives context that places the prejudice of America on a scale, he states, “This fissure between white and black is not everywhere of the same width. Naturally it is the widest in the former slave states and narrowest in the older and more cultivated east. It seldom, however, wholly closes up in New England, while it is threatening width in the south is the Negro Problem,” (Du Bois, 35). The color line in this sense is the fissure of the whites and blacks. The greatest depth of the line is that closest in the heart of the south.
In A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines, the story focuses on a community where racism is prominent, creating a racial hierarchy. Black people are supposed to respect white people, and address them with ‘sir’ or ‘mister’. During our first book club discussion, I brought up that at the beginning of the story, Grant seems to be forgetful of the system, as when he was talking to Henri Pichot, a white man, “[Henry Pichot] stared at me, and I realized that I had not answered him in the proper manner. ‘Sir’ I added” (Gaines 21). In the third discussion, we realize that as Grant’s character evolves throughout the story, he eventually does not care about what is expected of him as a black man, “‘Paul’s not here today?’
Responsibilities and commitments are key things in a person’s life. Some people struggle with accepting the fact that they have to be committed to something and have responsibilities that they need to take care of. In Ernest J Gaines’ novel, A Lesson Before Dying, Grant Wiggins evolves as the story goes on by learning to accept his responsibilities.
In “If I Were A Poor Black Kid,” writer Gene Marks claims that poor inner city children have opportunities to be successful in life if they follow the advices/ideas he gives such as, to magnet/private school, have technology access and get good grades. Throughout the article Marks, emphasizes that poor inner city kids have the ability to be successful but they do not want to use the resource they have available. This article has been a controversial because Marks compare himself with the poor inner city kids without having knowledge about the challenges poor inner city kids face daily. The argument the author presents in the article may seem logical on the surface but investigating more deeply it can be unreasonable. Gene Marks is a man who comes from a middle class white background.
Around the end of the 19th century, there lived many people wanting equality between races. Two main leaders of the African American community that emerged during that time were W.E.B. Du Bois and Booker T. Washington. All though both of these men were fighting for the same cause, they disagreed greatly with each other relating to the strategies that could be used to create progress in both the social and economic aspects of how African Americans lived and were treated. The two conflicting philosophies of these men are still affecting how we think of racial inequality, social class injustice, and much more; to this day.
The problem is more than race, it is about how humans treat other humans and how little respect we give to those we deem lower than us. The author used the characters to show that the desire to be superior among others goes further than race. She also used a real tragedy, the murder of the NAACP Field Secretary, which allows readers to connect the novel to real life and making the novel more compelling. These key issues make the readers think deeper, allows the novel to surpass others like it, and connect to many human interactions even in today’s
When Grant has to go to Henri Pichot’s house to talk to him he goes through the back door to get inside. When Grant is talking to Henri Pichot, Pichot stares at Grant until he addresses him as “sir” as if Pichot is above Grant even if Grant is smarter than him. Grant hates the way he is treated by whites in story because it makes him feel as if studying and becoming a teacher was a waste of time if he is still not treated with respect even if he is smarter than those people. In the novel Grant says this to Vivian, “I wish I could just run away from this place” (Gaines 94). Grant wants to leave but deep down he still loves Bayonne.
Those differences explain the wide gap between the left brain-ness brother and the right brain-ness Sonny, and why they have such a hard time understanding each other. One can definitely see why an African American would choose to become a teacher. Racism and discrimination was rough for African American’s during the 1950’s while growing up in Harlem. Many wanted better for themselves and their families, so they took a different and brighter path in their life. For some like Sonny, jazz and music represented freedom and a sense of escape from the agony of black poverty.
The teacher asks whether or not black students still care about racial justice and the boy responds by saying, “In the fifties we still had something to prove so we had a reason to fight”. The teacher asks, “you don’t think black students are competing now?”. His response: “No.” Maybe the filmmakers took this exchange out of context or maybe the student was trying to say something else, but it saddened me to think that there might be children who already feel a sense of defeat. The recent media campaigns surrounding police violence against black individuals, something that has been going on for decades just without media coverage, is showing the public that there is far more that needs to be done in order to make America equal for all races.
The blacks did not receive the same luxuries as the whites did. For instance, the colored received less than stellar entertainment where as the whites were able to get anything they wanted, “There, instead of houses and trees, there were fishing wharves, boat docks, nightclubs, and restaurants for whites. There were one or two nightclubs for colored, but they were not very good” (Gaines 25). It was unjust to the blacks that they could not enjoy themselves as much as the whites because of their skin color.
Discrimination was a huge factor during this time. It went both for African Americans and women. We can see this throughout the book. “Well, you keep you place then, Nigger. I could get you strung up on a tree so easy it ain’t even funny.