Within the novel, Wiggins learned lessons that changed his understanding of his town and surroundings, as well as his wan mental perceptions of the world around him. Perhaps the most important lesson Grant learned was to not let his place in society’s racial hierarchy influence his life entirely. As a college graduate, Grant is more educated and sophisticated than he was growing up in his small Louisiana town. However, to whites, he is still seen as inferior, and subordinate to those who may even be less educated than he is.
This treatment by the whites enrages Grant, yet he takes a passive stance against the prejudice. Not feeling as if his words, Houghton, or actions as a black man can ever influence anything, he decides to uphold silence, and thus mentally removes himself from his community. It is not until he begins meeting with Jefferson in prison that he learns his words, in fact, do have meaning. While reading Jefferson diary after his death, he sees primarily Just what a positive impact his words can have on those willing to listen.
Through interactions with other black friends and family in town, he realizes how much of an important factor he is to the black community; his education and role as a “community leader” rings feelings of hope to the black students he teaches, as well as other menial blacks he comes into contact with, such as Jefferson. Grant learns that, although he may be black and perpetually voiceless on a grand scale, he is still able to make a minor impact, which can eventually bring about a great change to his community as a whole.
Grant not only learns of his purpose within his community, but he also learns to be at peace within himself. In the novel’s beginning, Grant is withdrawn, bitter, and resentful. He sees his town as being stagnant, and longs to escape to somewhere deter. Grant lacks understanding: he is unable to see the possibility of change in the world around him, and becomes defeated. He accepts inferiority and prejudice, since he sees his town as unfixable.
As he attempts to teach Jefferson dignity in his dying days, he begins to see how he himself has been neglecting all the inspirations he was giving to others. He starts to welcome others into his life, no longer ostracize himself from those around him who care. He learns to not be so self-absorbed, and begins to love individuals other than himself. With his eyes finally open to what is around him, he strives to make a change to his situation, as opposed to surrendering himself to what he sees to be the inevitable.
In addition, Grant learns to face the injustices within Bayonne, as opposed to turning a blind eye to them. Grant, as well as other blacks in town, accepted Jefferson conviction, although they all knew it was unfair and racially charged; however, no one took a stance and fought for Jefferson freedom. Grant saw defeat long before he ever began the battle. From an earlier age, he saw no purpose in ding his society; he was told that even one’s best efforts would not matter by his former schoolteacher.
His pessimistic attitude was only highlighted through Jefferson trial and conviction; he comes to terms with the fact that his Judicial system functions to keep blacks inferior to whites. Eventually, Grant learns that his indifferent, pessimistic attitude towards his town’s injustice is synonymous to having no voice or influence at all. He comes to realize that even small victories can accumulate to bigger ones, and that there is a purpose and reason to standing up for hat he believes to be Just.
Although he knows the racial tension will not be eased through one action, he understands that it is fixable. Conclusively, Grant learned many lessons that resulted in his understanding of his role within his down-trodden community. Although black and seemingly powerless, Grant comes to terms with the fact that Justice will occur one day. He sees the need for his voice to be heard in his community, and begins to become more of a role model for the blacks. He sheds his angry, withdrawn persona to become more embracing and cognizant of the issues occurring around him.
Cite this A lesson before dying
A lesson before dying. (2018, Jan 26). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/a-lesson-before-dying/