A Lesson Before Dying By Ernest J. Gaines Essay

1029 Words Jul 10th, 2015 5 Pages
When skimming through the pages of Ernest J. Gaines’s literary masterpiece, “A Lesson Before Dying,” one will come across various themes throughout the course of the novel, the most prominent being worth. The dictionaries definition of worth is along the lines of value, this value being focused on a black man named Jefferson, a young man on trial for the murder of a white man, a murder which by no means did he commit. A man who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, his own life being the price to pay. Segregation plays a huge role on the small town of Bayonne Louisiana. In a place where, as the main character Grant puts it: “White people believe that they’re better than anyone else on earth.” (Gaines, p.192) After being defined as a hog in his trial, the reader watches as Jefferson transforms into a man, proving to the town of Bayonne he is worthy of this title. This tale of proving oneself a worthy man would not take shape without this heavily segregated town. Through the tightly knit coloured community, the law within the town, and finally the role religion all directly impact the overall theme of this novel, that being deemed the title of a worthy man. The reader comes to learn that the coloured population of Bayonne is slightly smaller than that of the white community, but the people themselves are well connected to one another. In the early chapters of the novel Grant Wiggins, a schoolteacher is able to note the details of his student’s home life and…

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