A Lesson Before Dying By Ernest J. Gaines Essay

1067 Words Jul 14th, 2015 5 Pages
The novel, “A Lesson Before Dying,” by Ernest J. Gaines, takes place in the 1940s, in a small plantation community in rural Louisiana. Paul, Grant and Jefferson are members of the society who illustrate, infer and prosper from the essential lesson learnt before dying. Though the three characters are distinct people, facing different scenarios in life, they engage in a struggle to achieve or support self-assurance and provide hope for civil rights movement in a society that restricts them. They learn the importance of one believing in their own integrity and provide an aspiration for justice, despite societal opinions.
As the story commences, Grant is initially reluctant to get involved and help the innocent death row inmate, Jefferson, realise his own humanity and gain self-assurance. As his aunt, Tante Lou, and Jefferson’s godmother, Miss Emma, enlist him to teach Jefferson how to be a man, he replies saying, “Yes, I’m the teacher ... And I teach what the white folks around here tell me to teach—reading, writing, and rithmetic. They never told me how to keep a black boy out of a liquor store,” (Gaines 13). Unwilling to help Miss Emma and listen to Tante Lou, he refuses to help. Tante Lou forces Grant to participate in helping Jefferson. Although he is involved in helping Jefferson, he does not “feel” it. Grant tries to use unnecessary excuses to back out by saying he is trying to make him feel guilty, “What for, Tante Lou? He treated me the same way he treated her. He…

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