Essay Ernest J. Gaines 's A Lesson Before Dying

1262 Words Nov 13th, 2015 6 Pages
Imprisoned There are different ways that a person can be imprisoned. They do not always have to be physically in jail to feel racially, mentally and emotionally damaged by the environment in which they live. Ernest J. Gaines’s novel, A Lesson Before Dying, follows the intelligent Grant Wiggins as he tries to bring a “sense of humanity” to a wrongly convicted Jefferson. Grant Wiggins is a teacher at a local, all black plantation school. Jefferson is a prisoner who has been typecasted as a hog and is also sentenced to death. In the book, Grant struggles to teach Jefferson how to find value in his life so he can die with dignity. Grant is faced with racism and prejudice everywhere he goes which causes him to lose his religion after going off to college.Consequently, he is unable to teach Jefferson how to feel imprisoned and to find things that matter in his life. At first, Grant’s attempts were hopeless, since Grant can not find meaning in his own life. Grant’s inability to place value to what is truly important in his life leaves him in a state of racial, mental, and emotional imprisonment. Racism can cause people to feel a sense of humiliation or entrapment in many aspects of their life. The racism that Grant faces causes him to feel humiliated at certain times. He is often belittled by racism in the smallest ways by the sheriff. Grant is frustrated that,“[he] had come through that back door against [his] will, and it seems that he and the sheriff were doing everything…

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