a Lesson Before Dying Anlyses Essay

1447 WordsFeb 20, 20126 Pages
A Lesson before Dying is a novel about a black man, Jefferson, who is wrongly accused of murder in the south during the 1940’s and even though he is innocent he is still sentenced to death. In the courtroom his lawyer refers to him as “a dumb animal” and that killing Jefferson would be like “tying a hog down in that chair and executing him.” (Gaines 31) The second main character in the book is Grant Wiggins who is asked by his Aunt Lou and Jefferson’s godmother, Miss Emma, to go visit Jefferson and convince him that he is a man and not a hog. Through these visits Grant and Jefferson both go through serious transformations. The author, Ernest Gaines, uses pathos, logos and diction to show how Jefferson and Grant alone are not heroes but through each other come to understand the man within themselves even amidst the stereotypes and harsh reality of the south that they live in. Grant Wiggins is a black man living in the south as a teacher at the community school in his town. He is the narrator in the novel and even though he is well educated he still is “much like everyone else in wanting something better.” (Vancil) When asked to help Jefferson to become a man he is extremely reluctant and hesitant. Not only does Grant think it will be nearly impossible to convince Jefferson that he’s a man but in order to even talk to him he has to have “a humiliating encounter” with the sheriff who makes him wait hours sitting in his kitchen until he comes in to speak with him. (Yardley) In A Lesson before Dying Grant has to overcome his natural dislike of white people, while also struggling with his feelings of discontent with his community “for their history of remaining downtrodden” and his dissatisfaction of being a teacher at the school. (Vancil) Grant’s own “self-contempt” makes it really difficult to help Jefferson; he is quoted in the novel of saying “I don’t want to

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