Examples Of Heroism In A Lesson Before Dying

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Joseph Campbell’s definition of a hero is “someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself”. Jefferson demonstrates this definition by walking like a man to his death, and showing the white people that he is as strong as any one of them. In A Lesson Before Dying, by Ernest J. Gaines, the white men still rule supreme over the black community. A black man named Jefferson is wrongly convicted of murder and is being put on death row. Grant, an educated black man, is being put to the test in hope to make Jefferson a man before he walks to the electric chair. Although he is being criticized by Reverend Ambrose because Grant is “sending Jefferson’s soul to hell”. The strongest theme in A Lesson Before Dying is that one man can …show more content…
When people are feeling depressed or sad they tend to make everyone else feel guilty or like they have done something bad. During Jefferson’s trial, the defense attorney called him a hog to possibly prove that sending Jefferson to the chair is like slaughtering a hog. This destroys Jefferson’s self image and puts him into a deep depression. While Grant, Tante Lou, and Miss Emma visit him in jail he makes them feel sad and guilty. Grant talks to Tante Lou in a condescending tone asking “what for? [Grant] said. What for, Tante Lou? He [Jefferson] treated me the same way he treated her [Miss Emma]. He wants me to feel guilty, just as he wants her to feel guilty”(123). Grant understands Jefferson’s mindset and his actions. He does not want to get hurt or have Miss Emma or Tante Lou be hurt by Jefferson’s words and actions. Jefferson, in his depressed state, affects everybody’s life who sees him in a negative manner because he is sad. Eventually Grant turns Jefferson’s life around and turns him into a well rounded man. Jefferson walks to the chair with pride and proves all of the white men wrong. Paul mentioned to Grant that “he was the strongest man in that crowded room” (253). Grant is incredibly relieved …show more content…
This claim is evidenced through Grant teaching the children life lessons and turning Jefferson into a man, Jefferson forcing his sadness onto everyone who came to visit him and then walking to his death like a man, and Reverend Ambrose giving the quarter hope. All of these examples show that the theme can be found throughout the text for a multitude of characters. This shows that if people want a change in societal norms they have to step up and show their discontent or nothing will ever change. No matter how small the change may be, if one person stands up for what is right it can positively affect the lives of everyone around

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