Life is a journey with both ups and downs. In A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines, Grant Wiggins, Jefferson's mentor, is expected to renew him as a man of honor and dignity before he is executed. Although Grant desires to escape and begin a new life, he is unable to do so because he is asked to educate Jefferson in heroism. Grant transforms into a more generous and sympathetic human being. Grant Wiggins tries to escape his fears and feelings, but in the process he realizes the forces that need him to stay are much greater.
A commitment to stay in a small town weighs heavily on Grant. He has a repeated desire to leave his hometown. Gaines expresses Grant's thoughts, “I wanted to scream at my aunt; I was screaming inside. I had told her many, many times how much I hated this place and all I wanted to do was get away” (Gaines 15). Grant expresses his wish to leave. He feels restrained and thinks, “‘I need to go someplace where I can feel I’m living,’ I said. ‘I don’t want to spend the rest of my life teaching school in a plantation church” (Gaines 29). Grant goes so far as to refuse any attempt to help Jefferson, "There's nothing [he] can do anymore,"(Gaines 14). Even though Grant recognizes the fact that Jefferson will die in a short while, he fails to acknowledge the possibility of working through the injustices to help make a difference. Grant feels stuck in his situation, he is "just running in place. He starts to feel a sort of responsibility for his people and an attraction to the town, and cannot bring himself to leave. In order to "try to keep the others from ending up like"(Gaines 14) Jefferson, Grant wants to help his students, but he fails to respect them. If Grant has a bad day, he takes out his anger on his students, slapping them on the back of the head for playing with an insect, or sending them to the corner for an hour for writing a sentence crooked across the board. Though Grant may have good intentions, he is feeling responsibility for...
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