A Lesson Before Dying Essay

595 WordsAug 21, 20143 Pages
In the book, “A lesson before dying”, a story that is set during late 1940’s. The story is focused on the Jefferson, a young black man, who is sentenced to death for a crime he did not commit, and Grant Wiggins, a teacher that wants to help Jefferson, but is dumbfounded on how. The story is told through the eyes of Grant Wiggins. The main focus in this book was Grant teaching Jefferson ‘how to be a man’. Jefferson’s attorney was the reason that Jefferson lost his self-respect. Jefferson’s attorney is a symbol of racism. Defending Jefferson as a “hog” because he sees him as one, he assumes he is guilty because of his race, no second thoughts, and even though the lawyer is assigned as an attorney to help him, he doesn’t care about Jefferson either way. Whites saw African Americans as unintelligent, so the attorney defends Jefferson the way the whites see him. An example would be when the lawyer says, “He does not even know the size of his clothes or his shoes”, another example of the attorney seeing Jefferson as unintelligent was when he stated “Ask him to quote one passage from the constitution or Bill of Rights.” When the lawyer says, “What you see here is a thing that acts on command.” Shows that the lawyer doesn’t show any sign of respect he has for Jefferson what so ever. During the 1940’s where everything was built on segregation and racism. During that period, blacks had no say in anything. For example, in the book “A lesson before dying” Jefferson is in the court room getting prosecuted for something that he didn’t commit. As the attorney said himself in the beginning of his case that, “The Defense argued that Jefferson was innocent from all charges except being at the wrong place at the wrong time”. This meant absolutely nothing to the people in jury. From the beginning of the case, it showed many ways that the attorney defending

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