Dehumanization In A Lesson Before Dying

Decent Essays

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.
The third step of genocide is dehumanization. Dehumanization is when one group tears humanistic characteristics from another group comparing them to animals. In Jefferson’s case, he was classified as a hog. From the very beginning of the book, Miss Emma’s one request was for Grant to have Jefferson die feeling like a man and not a hog. Jefferson’s human characteristics faded as his death approached. During Christmas time, he wouldn’t eat, because he thought they were fattening up “the hog” for a Christmas Eve feast. Grant realized how badly this word effected Jefferson, so he began to use this word as motivation for Jefferson. He took the word white people used to weaken him to make him stronger. Grant began making speeches for Jefferson to prove to him he wasn’t a hog, but a hero. “The white people out there are saying you don’t have it - that you’re a hog not a man. But I know they are wrong (191).” When Jefferson found out his execution date, his mood changed from gloomy to almost

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