Essay on A Lesson Before Dying Written by Ernest J. Gaines

715 Words Jul 23rd, 2007 3 Pages
A Lesson Before Dying
Written By Ernest J. Gaines
Essay By Alli Francis

Lessons are told so others can see the significance of a story or event. They are learned through instruction and support from others and by personal experience. Several characters in Ernest Gaines' A Lesson Before Dying experienced this, particularly Jefferson and Grant. Both men were able to learn from each other and in the end made each other better and more mature people.

Grant Wiggins, the narrator, is the son of cane-cutters on a plantation in the Deep South. Unlike those before him, Grant is the school teacher on the plantation and has attended college not only to become educated, but to escape the heavy prejudice and racism against blacks. This
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It is his first personal possession. Grant also gives him a notebook in which he can write thoughts or questions he would like answered. Writing about his emotions helps Jefferson release them and understand. He comes to see that he is not a hog, but a human. "Mr. Wiggins, if I ain't nothing but a hog, how come they just don't knock me in the head like a hog? Starb me like a hog? Man walk on two foots; hogs on four hoofs."(pg. 220.) This was a light bulb moment for Jefferson.

When Grant meets Jefferson, he had previously been a school teacher who felt discouraged by his work. He felt no matter what he did or taught the children it would have no positive effect on their lives. This past experience influenced his thoughts regarding the situation with Jefferson. The two men develop a rapport and Grant notices Jefferson's progress towards humanity. "I raised my head, and I saw him standing there under the window, big and tall, and not stooped as he had been in chains…I'm going to do my best Mr. Wiggins." (pg. 225). This positive progress was a key factor to Grant recognizing he had made a difference.

By the time Jefferson goes to the electric chair, Grant has gained a stronger sense of inner peace that he has affected someone's life in a positive manner even though he is pained that his good friend is dying. "Good by mr wigin tell them im strong tell them im a man." (pg. 234). Jefferson's goodbye to Grant shows he

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