A Lesson Before Dying By Ernest J. Gaines

1122 Words Jan 26th, 2015 5 Pages
The Power of a Strong Character

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. Grant is constantly having an eternal battle within himself on whether or not he is willing to take action against the white despotism. When Jefferson 's case is first brought up to Grant by Miss Emma and his aunt, he responds by saying, “Yes, I’m the teacher...And I teach what the white folks around here tell me to teach—reading, writing, and ’rithmetic. They never told me how to keep a black boy out of a liquor store" (Gaines ch 2). His whole education has revolved around the white system and what they want him to know and do. He feels that because he has been taught by the white-American…
Open Document