A Lesson Before Dying By Ernest J. Gaines Essay

1384 Words Dec 1st, 2016 6 Pages
Hope of Changes

In A Lesson Before Dying, author Ernest J. Gaines describes how a dehumanized black community of the 1940s struggles to break free of the oppression they have endured in a racist society in order to gain respect, pride, and dignity. However, the novel contains several key factors that make it hopeful. First, the sad and pessimistic story of Jefferson’s impending execution transitions into an optimistic fight against the prejudice and injustice as Jefferson learned to “walk” to Gruesome Gertie --the electric chair-- with dignity and purpose. Second, Jefferson’s teacher, Grant, discerns his responsibility for the community and regains his sense of competence to make a difference for the people in the community. In addition, the black people live in a discriminatory society that does not treat them with respect. For this reason, the Church stands as a beacon of hope for the black people who believe God will change society. And finally, Paul, a sympathetic prison guard, the only white man decent enough to befriend Jefferson, who is a black prisoner, and Grant, who is also black, symbolizes a light in the darkness and an example that white men can change from their racial intolerance.
Jefferson, at first apathetic and angry when he is defeated by the “justice” system, transforms into the image of Jesus Christ as he walks with dignity and purpose bravely to sit on Gruesome Gertie. His transformation and bravery give confidence to the community that there is a…

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