A Lesson Before Dying Essay

1067 Words 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
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“I 'm an old hog… Just an old hog they fattening up to kill for Christmas. I 'm go 'n show you how a old hog eat…" (Gaines 83)He takes the insult to heart and becomes haunted by the title. He begins to consider himself as a hog, both meaningless and powerless to the highly dominated white society and begins to withdraw himself from society, as he acts like a hog. But as Grant stays by his side and pushes him to open not only his eye but his heart and realise his place in the black society, he begins to participate in life, even though he is jailed and has no freedom. When Jefferson is given the journal, he jots down his thoughts, reflecting upon how his who he is and his unjust position in the society and begins to look at his life in a way he had never before. “The lord kno mr.wigin I hope I can see [nannan] one mo time on this earth fore I go is that love mr.wigin when you want see somebody bad…” (Gaines ) he begins to understand, express and feel emotions, an important layer in humanity which helps him later on realise the importance of his existence and death. Jefferson soon begins to believe in his own self-worth as he writes into his diary a Farwell to Grant the night before the execution, “Good by mr wigin tell them im strong tell them im a man,” (Graines ) he finally realises what his life and death will mean to the black society, his …show more content…
He is shown to be the only white man in the novel proven to truly sympathizes and respect people beyond racial discrimination. He slowly demonstrates transformation, as he develops a close relationship with the two black men: Grant and Jefferson. As for being Jefferson’s jail guard, he spends time with him and developing a strong bond with him. It is evident when the execution is only days away and Jefferson asks whether he will be there, he replies stating, “Yes Jefferson. I 'll be there.” (Gaines 245) He proves to have in fact developed a close relationship with Jefferson, being there from him in his most hardest and important moment in his life and death. He also proves to have and respectful and close relationship with black people when Jefferson’s execution is over, he drives all that way out the quarter to let Grant know that Jefferson has been finally executed and that he died as a man with strength and dignity. After having a small conversation, Paul offers his friendship," Paul stuck out his hand. 'Allow me to be your friend, Grant Wiggins. I don 't ever want to forget this day. '"(Gaines 255) Even though being a white member in a white dominated society, he verbally expresses his will to be Grant Wiggins, a black man’s friend, going against societal beliefs and opinion by developing close friendships with two black members of the community. Paul symbolises a hope and promise for a civil future

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