A Lesson Before Dying, by Ernest J. Gaines Essay

1011 Words 5 Pages
While we all would agree that racism is immoral and has no place in a modern society, that was not the case in the U.S. in the 1940s. At the time African Americans were treated as second-class citizens, it was made near-impossible for them to vote, and they were discriminated in many ways including in education, socially and in employment. It was a time in which segregation and racism perforated the laws and society, a time in which African Americans were “separate but equal,” segregation was legal and in full force. Apartheid was also everywhere from the books to in society. Blacks were not truly seen as equal as they were seen the the lesser of the two and it very much felt that way. Blacks were oppressed in many ways including having …show more content…
The stance that is taken in the court to criminalize Jefferson is detrimental because they make Jefferson lose his dignity as a man. Jefferson is compared to something that is seen as a rodent, and taking such a stance makes Jefferson lose all the hope that he has. When the defense referred to Jefferson as a boy and not a man, jefferson was being talked down by the side that was supposed to be his own. “This a Man? No, not I. I would all it a boy and a fool” (Gaines 7). Jefferson is being talked to like a boy, a fool. It is implied that he is inexperienced and he didn’t know what he was doing as much as a toddler wouldn’t. While the defense was on his side, it referred to him as a fool because of the color of his skin. The defense is making out Jefferson to be an innocent bystander and in the process making jefferson seem to be a manchild. It is not only making Jefferson seem like he was too idiotic to move out of the way, he is also being dehumanized. “I would just as soon put a hog in the electric chair as this” (Gaines ). When the defense compares Jefferson to a hog, he is saying that Jefferson is just as insignificant. It’s dehumanizing in that Jefferson is made out to be an insignificant low life. Jefferson’s defence is getting a point across, but it’s not the right one because “‘I don’t want them to kill no hog,’ she said. I want a man to go to that chair, on his own two feet.” (Gaines 13) In this quote Miss Emma wants Jefferson to know why he is
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