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  • Topic: Learning, Ernest J. Gaines, Mind
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A Lesson Before Dying – Honors Essay

The greatest life lesson learned by Grant in Ernest J. Gaines’s “A Lesson before Dying” was learning how to believe and what to believe in order to be a man. Grant being forced to teach Jefferson on how to be a man at such a short amount of time. Grant, himself, learned more lessons from his experience on teaching Jefferson than Jefferson himself. Grant having a serious talk with Reverend Ambrose says “Yes, sir, I’m lost. Like most men, I’m lost” “And suppose he ask you if you believe in heaven? Then what?” Reverend asks. “I hope he doesn’t Reverend, I hope he doesn’t.” Grant had trouble on finding beliefs and lessons that he could pass on to Jefferson to make him believe. If Grant didn’t believe how can he make someone, like Jefferson to believe? That was one of the lessons Grant had to learn. Grant avoided conversations that he and Jefferson had that had to do with Grant because if he was the teacher to teach Jefferson on how to be a man, yet Grant isn’t a man himself then he had to learn how to be one before he can teach Jefferson on being one. On the day of Jefferson’s death, Grant thought, “Yet they must believe. They must believe, if only to free the mind, if not the body. Only when the mind is free has the body a chance to be free. Yes, they must believe, they must believe. Jefferson must believe.” Grant believes himself at this point, he believes that Jefferson would stand up on that chair being strong. Even if Grant doubts his thoughts on him being the teacher that taught Jefferson to be a man on this day, he believes that Jefferson can make it. That was the moment Grant, himself, believe he can be a man too. These are the greatest life lesson that Grant learned in Ernest J. Gaines’s “A Lesson before Dying.”

Just like Grant, I, too, have learned the greatest lesson in Ernest J Gaines’s “A Lesson before Dying.” I have learned that it isn’t impossible to make a change or impact someone’s life and Grant made that...
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