Selflessness And Courage In Ernest Gaines's A Lesson Before Dying

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When will you die? How do you want to be remembered? Will you be remembered by your laughter and smiles, or will you only be remembered by the hate and hurt in your heart? Most people do not know they are going to die on a specific day, but they can still choose how they want to be remembered. The people around you can influence the way you are seen whether it be in a positive or negative way. Ernest Gaines established this idea in A Lesson Before Dying with his dynamic characters. Most of the characters learn a lesson and make a change in their lives for the better. Although some may argue that the lesson that is being taught and learned before dying refers only to Jefferson, a careful analysis shows that the whole community gains a…show more content…
He makes Jefferson feel needed and encourages him to be courageous, because he is the hero that they needed to break the cycle. The cycle has been an intrinsic part of the community in which the men run away from their problems and are not strong enough to fight against their struggles. The reader can see things are looking up for the protagonist chance of success in his task because of the change in Jefferson. Through Grant showing that he cares and not giving up on him, Jefferson learns a lesson about selflessness and having courage. The second person that learns a lesson during this book is Grant. In the beginning, Grant’s only concern is about himself. He doesn’t want to do anything for anyone but himself and feels miserable in his small community. He believes he is permanently stuck in the the same place and not doing any good. At first, Grant resents having to visit Jefferson because he doesn’t want the burden of changing him into a man, or the shame of being treated as a lesser human being by the sheriffs. Eventually, Grant realizes that he does need to do things for other people and puts in a full effort. Grants asks “Do you want me to bring you a little radio next time I come?” (Gaines 172). This quote illustrates how Grant is actually considering what Jefferson wants instead of living for only himself. Grant desires that Jefferson asks for whatever he wants and shares his thoughts. Grant eventually blatantly
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