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A Lesson Before Dying

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Grant is the protagonist of A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest Gaines shows how Grant went through a difficult life in a racist society in the South. Grant spent his life in Bayonne, a segregated racist community which made him intense. He does not believe anything would change and escaping is the only thing he could think of. Grant does not have any confidence in himself and the society. Throughout the novel, he learns how to accept the responsibility of his own life, his relationships with his family and friends, and having respect in the society.

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In the beginning of the novel, Gaines tells us that Grant might be deceiving himself, since he distances himself from Jefferson’s trial and yet he somehow knows everything that happened there. Grant pictures, “A white man had been killed during a robbery, and through two of the robbers had been killed on the spot, one had been captured, and he, too, would have to die.

” This shows that Grant was confidence about the story of what happened in that store when three men were killed and the robber has to be killed for what he did.

Tante Lou and Miss Emma wanted Grant to talk to Jefferson about his trial. Grant says, “I’m the teacher … and I teach what the white folks around here tell me to teach-reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic. They never told me how to keep a black boy out of a liquor store. ” This reveals Grant’s concern about teaching Jefferson and does not wanted to do it. Also, shows that his own education is based on learning the words of white people and anyways he is respected for his high academic achievement.

Although, Grant wants to help his students to prevent being black and poor in the South, he feels useless to do it even if it is his academic race. Gaines also tells how Grant suffers in a racist society. “Bayonne was a small town of about six thousand. Approximately three thousand five hundred whites; approximately two thousand five hundred colored … There was a Catholic church uptown for whites; a Catholic church back of town for colored. There was a white movie theater uptown; a colored movie theater back of town.

There were two elementary schools uptown, one Catholic, one public, for whites; and the same back of town for colored. ” This reveals that Grant viewed Bayonne has a segregated place to live in and of how the whites and colored people were separated. They could not even use the same public places. “Commitment to what-to live and die in this hellhole, when we can leave and live like other people? ” says Grant. This means that Grant wants to run away, to escape his community and the heavy burden that lies on himself. I still don’t know if the sheriff will even let me visit him. And suppose he did; what then? What do I say to him? Do I know what a man is? Do I know how a man is supposed to die? I’m still trying to find how a man should live, Am I supposed to tell someone how to die who has never lived? ” Grant said. This quote tells that Grant’s own worries, even if it is his education and teaching job, he does not understand more about finding meaning in life than somebody else in the black community.

Grant states, “I read the story and reread the story, but I still could not find the universality that the little Irishman had spoken of. All I saw in the story was some Irishmen meeting in a room and talking politics. What had that to do with America, especially with my people? It was not until years later that I saw what he meant … I began to listen, to listen closely to how they talked about their heroes, to how they talked about the dead and how great the dead had once been. I heard it everywhere. You can tell Grant’s reaction from the story that show how important that Jackie Robinson and Joe Louis experiences of the colored people in the community. Jackie Robinson and Joe Louis bring hope in the black community. Ernest Gaines shows how Grant helps Jefferson to die with dying. Grant mentioned, “We black men have failed to protect our women since the time of slavery. We stay here in the South and are broken, or we run away and leave them alone to look after the children and themselves. So each time a male child is born, they hope he will be the one to change this vicious circle-which he never does.

Because even though he wants to change it, and maybe even tries to change it, it is too heavy a burden because of all the others who have run away and left their burdens behind. So he, too, must run away if he is to hold on to his sanity … man. ” This quote tells us that it deals with facing black men in the South, either stay or be hurt by the white people, or run away from your blame and live a better life for yourself. Also, tells that Grant tries to make a life for himself and helps Jefferson handle death.

Grant says, “Do you know what a myth is, Jefferson? … A myth is an old lie that people believe in. White people believe that they’re better than anyone else on earth-and that’s a myth. The last thing they ever want is to see a black man stand, and think, and show that common humanity that is in us all. It would destroy their myth. They would no longer… anymore. ” This quote tells that Grant confess to himself to be a slave because he fails to confront the white judgment. “I want you to chip away at the myth by standing.

I want you-yes, you-to call them liars. I want you to show them that you are as much a man-more a man than they can ever be. That jury? You call them men? That judge? Is he a man? The governor is no better. They play by the rules their forefathers created hundreds of years ago. Their forefathers said that were only three-fifths human-and they believe… day. ” This tells us that Grant now understands why Miss Emma wants Jefferson to die like a man rather than die like a hog. Jefferson can become a hero by not letting the racist society to affect him.

Cite this A Lesson Before Dying

A Lesson Before Dying. (2016, Nov 14). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/a-lesson-before-dying-3/

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