Essay on A Lesson Before Dying By Grant Wiggins

1074 Words Apr 26th, 2016 5 Pages
Can one man make a difference in society? In A Lesson before Dying, Grant Wiggins does not believe so. During the late 1940s a young black man, Jefferson, is present during a shooting in a liquor store. As the only survivor, he is put on trial, wrongly accused, and sentenced to death. Grant Wiggins, who is also a young black man, has returned to his hometown with a college education to teach. In part of the lawyer’s defense statement, Jefferson is called a hog, and the lawyer says a man such as himself would not have the brains to assemble a plan so intricate. Grant is persuaded by his aunt and Jefferson’s godmother to impart his wisdom to Jefferson, and remind him of his humanity before he is executed. Grant agrees reluctantly, but eventually forms a bond with Jefferson during the meetings. Not only does Grant educate Jefferson, but Jefferson teaches Grant many critical lessons as well. In A Lesson before Dying, Jefferson shows Wiggins the importance of each individual of a community, causing Wiggins to see that he can make an impact on society.
At the beginning of the book, Wiggins believes he cannot change his position in society. As an educated man, Wiggins understands the society he lives in, and sees the racism towards the black community. He struggles at the beginning of the novel to see past this racism. At one point in the novel, Wiggins thinks, “And besides looking at hands, now he began inspecting teeth. Open wide, say ‘Ahhh’--and he would have the poor children…

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