A Lesson Before Dying Essay

905 WordsSep 14, 20124 Pages
Grant Wiggins: Lost Faith ‘A Lesson before Dying’, written by Ernest J. Gaines, takes place in a small Louisiana town in the late 1940’s. One of the main characters is Grant Wiggins, a young black elementary school teacher, who resides in this Cajun community. Grant is one of the many witnesses to the everyday racism shown in his hometown. He is constantly looking for an escape from it. As a result of him growing up in this segregated and racist community, his faith in the church has waned. Since things have yet to change, Grant’s faith in his self is lost. As the novel progresses Grant finds himself in constant battles against himself as he begins to alienate himself from the world around him. Grants long battle against himself begins when he returns home from college as an educated man. Despite that fact, some people in his hometown still treat him as though he is inferior. Grant is outraged but he does not say or do anything to change it. The racism and segregation taking place fills him with despair. He is angry at himself for his failure to protect those he cares for. “We black men have failed to protect our women since the time of slavery. We stay here in the South and are broken, or we run away and leave them alone to look after the children and themselves. So each time a male child is born, they hope he will be the one to change this vicious circle - which he never does. Because even though he wants to change, and maybe even tries to change it, it is too heavy a burden because of all the others who have run away and left their burdens behind. So he, too, must run away if he is to hold on to his sanity and have a life of his own.” (167). Grant is too intimidated by the white supremacy to help anyone, including himself. He tries to remove himself from those he loves by looking at them with contempt and arguing with himself, that since they are

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