A Lesson Before Dying By Ernest Gaines Essay

1004 Words Nov 5th, 2015 5 Pages
The most important heroes are often unexpected and go unnoticed. In A Lesson Before Dying, Grant and Jefferson take center stage while Paul Bonin is forgotten. A Lesson Before Dying is written by Ernest Gaines. It is a story about a young black man named Jefferson, who is in the wrong place at the wrong time and sentenced to death for murders he did not commit. On behalf of his aunt and Jefferson’s godmother, Grant, the school teacher, visits an angry Jefferson in prison to try to turn him into a man. At this prison, there is a strict sheriff, the stern chief deputy, and a young deputy named Paul Bonin who eventually befriends Grant and Jefferson. Although Paul is not the obvious hero in A Lesson Before Dying, Paul’s growth from being a typical white man under the sheriff’s shadow of racial bias to overcoming racial boundaries makes him the unlikely hero in the fight for racial equality.
Paul begins the book acting as typical white man following the discriminatory social norms under the watch of the sheriff. Grant arrived at the prison and entered: “When I came into the office, Paul looked at me straight in the face. He knew it was unnecessary to search me and the food, but he knew he had to do it. He also knew that he should not even think about not doing it. It was as much his duty as wearing the uniform and carrying the cell keys” (168). Paul sees the racial prejudice in searching Grant, yet he still does it as it is his duty. He knows it’s wrong but the social boundaries…

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