Character Analysis of Grant Wiggins and Jefferson in a Lesson Before Dying

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Character Analysis of Grant Wiggins and Jefferson in A Lesson Before Dying Ernest Gaines's 1993 novel A Lesson Before Dying takes place during the 1940s within a Cajun community in Louisiana, and follows the final days of a young black man named Jefferson, as narrated by the town's schoolteacher, Grant Wiggins. Both are central to the novel and serve as the novel's protagonists. In the novel, Jefferson is falsely accussed of murdering an older white male, and is sentenced to death by electric chair. In the courtroom, his attorney states that killing him would be no better than killing a hog, in order to defend Jefferson. Miss Emma, Jefferson's godmother, does not want him to die as a hog but as a man; she enlists the help of Grant, who goes along with much reluctance, to achieve this. Grant and Jefferson are not related at all, but are connected in many ways through their experiences as black males living in a racist society. Both are imprisoned, whether it be aphysical or mental prison, and receive constant reminders of their inferior state. For example, when Miss Emma requests that she and the others who come to visit Jefferson see him the day room, she is told that Jefferson will have to choose whether he will be unshackled in his cell or shackled in the day room. Jefferson is not to forget he was in prison. Although he is physically free, Grant is subject to the same kind of treatment that everyone else in the quarter is subject to. To a degree, Grant expects to be treated better because of his education; he is enraged because he is not. Also, Grant encourages Jefferson to do certain things (particularly, to eat) by stating that he owes it to his godmother, who raised him and has always looked after his wellbeing. However, Grant himself has a hard tine obeying his aunt, who raised him, or being considerate towards his girlfriend, who is always there to listen

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