A Lesson Before Dying Analysis

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Analysis of Grant Wiggins and Jefferson In Ernest J. Gaines’s novel “A Lesson Before Dying,” Grant Wiggins is forced to visit Jefferson in jail to make him a man after being called a hog in court. Before Grant can help Jefferson, he must first face his own inner demons, such as his cockiness and hate towards the whites. He sees himself as superior to other people because he is more educated. Instead of using his education positively within the community and his classroom, he uses it negatively by embarrassing his students and being ignorant to his own people. I think Grant acts this way because his own teacher, Matthew Antoine, acted the same way towards him. It’s kind of his way at revenge. Grant has a lot of anger through the beginning of his visits to Jefferson. He didn’t want to be bossed around and told what to do any more like he was at the Pichot house, and that’s exactly what his aunt was doing to him. Even though Jefferson is the one that is locked up, Grant is also, in a sense, in jail. He has had so many opportunities to leave his town and find a better life, but decides to stay because he feels like he has no control over his life. Grant’s first few visits to Jefferson don’t go so well. Grant has a very negative attitude towards the situation because he has no idea what he can do to turn Jefferson into a man. He feels as if it is a lost cause. Jefferson acts completely immature during the visits. He ignores Grant and when Grant tries to give him food, he gets on all fours and eats it off the floor as if he is a hog. Jefferson sees himself as a hog that deserves to die. He doesn’t think he deserves any dignity or respect, because he is an animal. Grant must get these thoughts out of Jefferson’s head before he can make any progress. As the visits go on, you can see their relationship growing and their dependency on one another for support.

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