Inner Conflict in Gaines' A Lesson Before Dying Essay

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Inner Conflict in Gaines' A Lesson Before Dying

"They sentence you to death because you were at the wrong place at the wrong time, with no proof that you had anything at all to do with the crime other than being there when it happened. Yet six months later they come and unlock your cage and tell you, We, us, white folks all, have decided it’s time for you to die, because this is the convenient date and time" (158). Ernest J. Gaines shows the internal conflicts going through the mind of Mr. Wiggins in his novel A Lesson Before Dying (1933). Mr. Wiggins is struggling through life and can’t find his way until he is called upon against his own will to help an innocent man, Jefferson. The help is not that of freeing him at all.
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Wiggins true character is revealed. In saying, " ‘Are you trying to hurt me, Jefferson? Are you trying to make me feel guilty for your being here? You want me to come back here anymore?’ " (84). He is trying to figure out if there is anyway possible to get out of the situation brought to him. Grant believes if he can get Jefferson’s consent he will no longer have to do something he doesn’t what to do. The only problem is that Grant need Jefferson more than he knows. This is brought out when he starts to talk about leaving the farm in which he grew up. On page 94, the author has a series of quotes of Mr. Wiggins and Vivian that say, " ‘I wish I could just run away from this place.’ Vivian shook her head.

‘You know you can’t.’ ‘Why not?’ ‘For the same reason you haven’t done it yet.’ ‘I’ve wanted to.’ ‘But you haven’t’

‘Why?’ " Vivian goes on to say how Grant loves the people in the area more than he hates the place. There is more to it though. Grant is scared he can’t make it in the outside world. He saw it when he was educated there. He shows that he needs someone or something to help him move on, and that someone just might be Jefferson.

In one quote of Mr. Wiggins, he contradicts everything he has done in the story. " ‘I don’t know when I’m going to die. . . I try to live as well as I can every day and not hurt people. Especially people who love me, people
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