At the beginning of the book, Jefferson sees himself as powerless in a white-dominated society. Following the Antebellum period in the South, laws made “separate but equal” legal and created the societal view that the black man is unintelligible, uncivilized, and only three-fifths of a man (Brown). The author can relate to Jefferson and uses him as a symbol for the oppressed people because he has also felt in trapped in a predominantly white society (Gaines). Jefferson tells Grant that he is “just an old hog they fattening up to kill for Christmas” (83). He views himself as just an animal waiting to be slaughtered. He cries when he thinks about the stereotypes that have been set by the society; however, the readers witness a reflectional moment when Jefferson says, “manners are for the living” (130). He is reflecting upon how his dignity has been taken away. He only eats his food “like a hog
In the novel, A Lesson Before Dying, by Ernest J. Gaines, he writes about Jefferson, a young African American male, who has been convicted of stealing and killing, ultimately being sentenced to death. His former teacher, Grant Wiggins, is tasked with helping him die like a man. This struggle among the black characters represents the injustice of the legal (justice) system and the responsibility Grant and Jefferson must face as men because of the racial tension among blacks among blacks and whites, the slave mentality of blacks, and the progression black men must make in order to make their race better.
After the Civil War ended, many blacks and whites, especially in the South, continued living as if nothing had changed with regards to the oppression and poor treatment of African Americans. Narrator Grant Wiggins, of Ernest J. Gaines' A Lesson Before Dying, possesses a similar attitude toward race relations. Through his experiences with a young man wrongly accused of murder, Grant transforms from a pessimistic, hopeless, and insensitive man into a more selfless and compassionate human being who can see the possibility of change in relations between whites and blacks.
In Ernest J. Gaines novel A Lesson Before Dying, a young African-American, Jefferson, is caught in the middle of a liquor shootout, and as the only survivor is convicted of murder and sentenced to death. During Jefferson’s trial, his attorney calls him a hog in an effort to persuade the jury that he could not have possibly planned a crime like this. Having heard this, Jefferson’s godmother, Miss Emma, calls on the local school teacher, Grant Wiggins, to visit Jefferson in prison and help prove to the community, more importantly the white people, that Jefferson is indeed a man, not a hog. Throughout the book, Grant often contemplates why he is helping Miss Emma; he debates within himself whether he should stay and help Miss Emma and
The Jim Crow Era was peak time for segregation causing Jefferson’s journey in the novel, A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest Gaines to open up the eyes of many, no matter what one’s skin color is, by showing what it means to die as a hero even when seen as the villain. Grant is to make Jefferson a man before he dies by showing him the truths about religion, race, and the United States justice system. Jefferson also teaches Grant a few things about life, creating a unique bond between the two.
Grant and Jefferson are on a journey. Though they have vastly different educational backgrounds, their commonality of being black men who have lost hope brings them together in the search for the meaning of their lives. In the 1940’s small Cajun town of Bayonne, Louisiana, blacks may have legally been emancipated, but they were still enslaved by the antebellum myth of the place of black people in society. Customs established during the years of slavery negated the laws meant to give black people equal rights and the chains of tradition prevailed leaving both Grant and Jefferson trapped in mental slavery in their communities.
One of the many challenges associated with writing is that of writing style. It can help highlight the work when used effectively, or the opposite, if used ineffectively. Some have an intuitive grasp on matter while others struggle. In his book “A Lesson Before Dying”, author Ernest J. Gaines effectively conveys his story through his stylistic choices. He does this through Jefferson’s diary in chapter 29, Grant’s observations and thoughts throughout the story, and the “third-person" perspective of chapter 30. These things elevate the immersion of the story and gives further insight into what Gaines is trying to convey.
“You don’t get to choose how you’re going to die and when, you can only decide how you are going to live”. (Joan Baez). In the novel A Lesson Before Dying, written by Ernest J. Gaines, Jefferson doesn’t get to choose how and when he’s going to die, but he learns valuable lessons from Grant about how to live the rest of his life. This novel takes place in Bayonne, Louisiana, in the late 1940s. Jefferson is a twenty-one-year-old uneducated black man, who is accused of a robbery and murder that he did not commit. Unfortunately, the conviction led to his death by execution. While he is in jail, Jefferson’s grandmother wants him to die a hero, so she turns to Grant Wiggins, a black teacher at the local plantation school. During his time in
In the novel A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines, racism and prejudice are clearly evident and talked about throughout the novel. The novel expresses the oppression of the blacks under a white-ruled society through the narrator, Grant. Grant is a well-educated black man who struggles to free himself from the oppression he has felt from the white community. Despite the fact that he is educated and a teacher, he initially lacks the vigor needed to take the first step against black discrimination. He has all this intellect, but does not realize until later on that it is not only intelligence he needs to overcome the oppression, but self-assertion, too. Education does not prove your intellectual worth in society; rather, it is what you do during difficult times that define your intelligence and strong character not just to yourself, but to the world.
In A Lesson Before Dying by author Ernest J Gaines, Grant is the protagonist who is trying to do the right thing for his people. Grant is in a very turbulent situation, having to make Jefferson into a “man” by the time he is executed. This is the central plot of the story, but not the main themes and ideas of it. Grant is struggling to help Jefferson because he sees generations of injustice through him. “’We got our first load of wood last week,’ [Grant] told him. ‘Nothing changes,’ he said.” (Gaines, 53). The response Grant’s teacher gives him has a deeper meaning: he as Grants’ teacher failed to change the injustice and racism and Grant is in the same situation. “Nothing changes”, but Grant does not give up for the sake of Jefferson, his people, and most importantly, himself. At one point, Grant actually reveals that “it is too heavy a burden because of all the others who have run away and left their burdens behind. So, he,
In a society where hardships occur daily, it is vital to have something to hold on to as an anchor. This reliance or commitment is in the form of friends, family, or even tangible possessions; however, humans sometimes have to fulfill deeds for others instead of continually thinking of themselves. Given these obligations, there results both a need and a desire to complete certain tasks for other individuals, for a community, or even for a higher power. In his novel, A Lesson Before Dying, Ernest Gaines quite successfully portrays the theme of the importance of obligation and commitment through presenting an effective setting and community, constructing strong relationships between characters, and providing
The fact that Grant considers himself to be better than all of the black residents of Bayonne is one of the many things that holds Grant back from being an effective coach to assist Jefferson in his quest to become a man. Another contributing factor to his ineffective teaching is his lack of self confidence. If Jefferson does not see a worthy example of how to be a man, then he will never effectively become one himself. After a few visits to see Jefferson in his cell, persevering through his own belief that he is not making a difference, being told that he was wasting his time, he realized that he was doing much more than performing a favor for Miss Emma and Tante Lou. He realized that he wasn’t only trying to turn Jefferson into a man. This was Miss Emma and Tante Lou’s way of teaching himself a lesson on how to live his life and who he really is. “I need you,” I told him. “I need you much more than you could ever need me” (Gaines, 193). This quote represents the
I found A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines a deeply moving novel, which kept me on the edge of my seat and had a hard time putting down. The novel explores various themes and concepts that surround the education system, filled with multiple emotional moments, conflicts, and surprising moments scattered throughout the storyline. However, the novel does not just focus on the education system and its underlying issues, but it also focuses on human transformation, where the emotional moments, conflicts, and surprising moments of the novel were most evident. Although the novel raises some important issues and concerns that should be taken more considerably about the education system, human transformation that comes around as a result of love, is an overarching theme that stood out to me throughout the novel.
After the civil war ended many blacks and whites especially in the south, continued living as if nothing had changed with regards to the oppressions and poor treatment of African Americans. Narrator Grant Wiggins, of the novel A Lesson Before Dying, By Ernest Gaines, finds himself in a similar situation towards racism. Through his experience Grant is forced to transform Jefferson who was wrongly accused of a murder from a “HOG” into a man. Although Grant was forced to make jefferson a man, he himself became more of one as a result. Grant transformed from an ignorant pessimistic person into a sensitive and compassionate human being.
Jefferson is a peculiar character in that the story is centred on his existence and, although his thoughts and opinions are seldom expressed, the lessons he learnt are completely unambiguous. As the tragic story goes, he is a very young black man unjustly condemned to death for a crime he did not commit. Furthermore, he is dehumanized in his defence when he is called a “hog” and this detrimentally affects his self esteem throughout a significant portion of the novel. However, this melancholic situation he is thrust into and his initial reaction to it is contrasted against his final moment which unashamedly reveals just how much he has learnt in his incarceration period. Jefferson, through the guidance of Grant, learns about the notion of dignity, a peculiarity that drives people towards the pinnacle of human