A Lesson Before Dying - Lessons Learnt Before Jefferson's Demise
1095 WordsApr 19, 20135 Pages
Formal Essay: A Lesson before Dying
Exactly what lessons are learnt, and by whom, before Jefferson is executed?
There are, in fact, numerous lessons learnt throughout the novel A Lesson Before Dying and they are learnt by a multitude of different characters. A significant number of characters throughout the book gradually evolve whilst story unfolds with this gradient of change emphasised in Jefferson, Grant Wiggins and the deputy, Paul. The lessons substantiate themselves in the words and actions of all the characters throughout the novel; however, it is Grant who learns perhaps the most. Through his interactions with Jefferson and his direct community, Grant, even unintentionally, develops his understanding of life beyond the grasp…show more content…
Through teaching Jefferson, Grant realizes that he had falsely attributed self-worth to things such as education and that there was much more to a human than his original understanding and he recognizes this when he says “My eyes were closed before this moment, Jefferson. My eyes have been closed all my life.” (Gaines, 2002, p. 225”). Indeed it was Jefferson that taught him that redemption belongs to everyone and that his duty to his community is worth much more than he initially ascribed to it. It is clear that Grant learnt from Jefferson as much as Jefferson learnt from Grant.
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