A Lesson Before Dying Essay

474 WordsApr 1, 20132 Pages
October 10, 2011 Pre-AP English In Ernest Gaines’ novel, A Lesson Before Dying, there are many biblical allusions. Some are more obvious than others however they build and add to the intensity of the novel. Much of the emotional power of this novel stems from the way he uses religious symbolism in an allegorical way to show that Jefferson is able to become a man because his life takes on Christ-like attributes. The very first and strongest allusion begins on page 4 and is carried throughout the novel. “A white man has been killed during a robbery, and though two of the robbers had been killed on the spot, one had been captured, and he, too, would have to die.” Two robbers, a trial and a wrongful conviction leads a reader to think of Christ and the crucifixion. If you add to that the racism of the time against an oppressed race, African Americans there is another similarity to Jesus, a member of another oppressed race, the Jews, who were subject to the Romans. One of the more obvious allusions is how the date in which Jefferson was to be executed is tied to two important dates in the Christian calendar, Christmas and Easter. The discussion of Christmas, “Nobody is going to die at Christmas.” (140) and the date of Jefferson’s execution, “It had to be before or after Easter. It couldn’t happen during Lent.” (156) remain consistent with the references to the crucifixion. The mayor tries to eliminate some of the association by setting the date two weeks after Easter, however, his awareness of the image reinforces its power. The character of Paul Bonin alludes to the conversion of the Apostle Paul from the new testament. “I saw the transformation. I am a witness to that.”(254) Paul’s witness to Jefferson’s conversion dramatically changes his moral code and life. His leadership and influence in the community mimics the

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