A Lesson Before Dying By Earnest J. Gaines Essay

1568 Words Dec 6th, 2014 7 Pages
Earnest J. Gaines novel, a Lesson before Dying, is set in a small Cajun community in the late 1940’s, where a horrible incident occurs convicting a presumed innocent man, to death. No one quite knows how long Jefferson has, however, in the time he does have, he must learn the most important lesson of all, and that is how to be human. There are many characters in the story that learn this lesson alongside, or even because of, Jefferson, such as Grant and his girlfriend Vivian. The entire community has been effected by Jefferson’s sentence, and every character will learn a lesson while they await the dreaded end to his sentence, and watch as ‘hog’, is turned into a man.
Grant Wiggins is the protagonist of the novel, and is given the task of turning Jefferson ‘into a man’. Due to his task, Grant learns the greatest lesson of all, and that is how to be human. He learns this through obtaining humility, while visiting Jefferson, speaking to him, and attempting to get through to his “human” side. Grant starts to question himself, and what he is doing in his life, and by doing so, he questions and changes his beliefs about himself. This is shown in chapter 8, when grant thinks to himself “What am I doing? Am I reaching them at all? /Is this just a viscous cycle? Am I doing anything?” (Gaines, 62). By questioning his ability as teacher, he gives himself the opportunity to change, and to learn from others and his job. Grant also gains humility when he says to Jefferson “I could never…

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