Elements of College Learning
Discovering the Hero Within
A Lesson Before Dying was set during the time of segregation. During this time black people were slaves and white people had all the power. It never crossed a black mans mind that he could ever be considered a hero. The two main characters, Jefferson and Grant, are having trouble understanding how to be men, and that the simple acts of kindness they perform can make them heroes. Before their heroism can be discussed, it is important to understand how the relationship between those two men began. Jefferson is a young black man who was wrongfully convicted of robbery and murder of a white man in a liquor store shoot- out. His lawyer told the jury he was too stupid to have committed a murder and that he was nothing more then a “hog.” Nevertheless, Jefferson was sentenced to death by electrocution. He takes the “hog” comment to heart and no longer seems to care about anything or anyone around him. Jefferson's godmother, Miss Emma, does not want him to die thinking he is a hog. She wants him to die a man with dignity. Therefore, she seeks the help of Grant Wiggins, who she asks to visit Jefferson, and teach him how to be a man before he dies. Unfortunately, Grant is confused about his own life and what a man is supposed to be. Grant is a man who left his hometown to further his education at a university. He resents his life because he came back and became a teacher, but he does not think he is making a difference with his students or people in his community because of the segregation that is still going on. He wants to run away from his problems. Even though he does not think he could make a difference, he still does Miss Emma the favor of going to visit Jefferson. While visiting Jefferson, Grant becomes his close friend. He realizes why Jefferson feels he is a hog and why Miss Emma wants him to die a man. Grants ends up being the only person Jefferson...