Analysis Of A Lesson Before Dying

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“A Lesson Before Dying” is a book written by Ernest J. Gaines, published in 1993. The book is placed in a small Cajun community in the United States. The story revolves around two black men, one is Jefferson, who was sentenced to death for a liquor robbery he had no part in. The other man, Grant Wiggins, who is a teacher trying to help Jefferson become a man before he is sentenced to death. A literary criticism published by Philip Auger, states that in “A Lesson Before Dying”, “Grant’s situation is somewhat similar to Jefferson’s in that both he and Jefferson are undergoing a profound change in their own self-perceptions...He [Grant] also finds his own freedom extremely limited, if it indeed exists at all, and he sees the future of his students …show more content…
Grant, previous to obtaining his knowledge about life, was very hard on his children at school. The children ended up being scared of Grant, to the point of crying for doing something wrong. When the children do something wrong, he would often “bring the Wescott down” (36) onto their palms as a punishment. Teachers shouldn’t use this form of punishment because it makes the children more scared of the teacher, rather than learning from their mistakes. For example, in todays society, people learn their manners and how to act properly perfectly fine, for the most part, without dealing with the abuse of teachers from their actions. The day of Jefferson’s execution, when Grant realized that Jefferson was really gone, he learned a lesson about dying. He shows that he learns this lesson in front of the people who he had treated the worst, the kids. Grant came back to the school, “went up to the desk and turned to face them.. [he] was crying”(256). He learns in that moment, to not be so condescending towards people because it doesn’t do any good to be hard on everybody all the time, since we are all only …show more content…
At the beginning of the book, Jefferson is convicted and called a hog in court. In response he acts very selfishly towards the people that love him with no regard or care to how they would react. Everybody that had visited him was nothing but kind and respectful towards him. He would say to Miss Emma, his Nannan, how “things don’t matter... a hog eats corn, not cooked foods” (58, 68), when she was just being kind and baking him home cooked meals for him in the jail. Jefferson didn’t really appreciate what others were trying to do for him while he was in the jail, and thought nothing mattered. Because of that, he would do whatever he wanted, and say whatever he wanted. That was before Jefferson had made a connection with Grant Wiggins. Grant would visit Jefferson frequently and connected with Jefferson on a deeper level by being honest with Jefferson and trying to connect with him for the sake of Miss Emma. After the connection was established, Jefferson would listen to grant and take what he says into account. Jeffersons connection with Grant helped him change his perspective on how he should be treating people, and how his mindset should be the last few days before his execution. After Grant had connected with him, the first thing Jefferson did to show he wasn’t so selfish was “going back to the table with his Nannan (Miss Emma) and eating her

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