Essay about A Lesson Before Dying By Ernest Gaines

1238 Words Jul 18th, 2015 5 Pages
Oppression, regardless of whichever form or degree inflicted, often leaves devastating effects on its victims. Ernest Gaines ' novel A Lesson Before Dying portrays a manner of oppression through Gaines ' chosen setting of the prejudiced south during the 1940 's. The story revolves around the interaction of the main characters: Grant Wiggins, a teacher, and Jefferson, an African American man sentenced to death after being falsely convicted of a crime. A Lesson Before Dying is told through Wiggins ' perspective as the teacher tries to enforce dignity and self-worth into Jefferson before he dies. The author uses Jefferson, Matthew Antoine, and Grant Wiggins to reveal to his audience that racism is an oppressive force. As the novel progresses, readers witness the transformation of both men and learn a life lesson about self-value. In the beginning of the novel, Gaines ' audience can immediately sense the weight of oppression in the author 's first scene. Jefferson 's trial is placed during a period where African Americans are reduced to a voiceless role in society. Inside the courtroom there is a white judge, a set white lawyers, and a jury that consist of "twelve white men" (8). Without dubiosity, all of characters in the novel are aware of what Jefferson 's verdict will be: guilty. Wiggins ' criticism of the oppressive system is seen later in the novel as he states: "twelve white men say a black man must die, and another white man sets the date and time without consulting…

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