The qualities of men are unlimited therefore; they should be developed and appreciated. Three of the most important qualities are maturity, self-worth, and commitment. In Ernest J. Gaines’s novel, A Lesson before Dying, he illustrates the three main qualities through two African-American men, Jefferson and Grant. Jefferson is a man who is struggling to mature in a harsh world filled with racism and injustice, while trying to prove that he is a dignified young man. Grant, on the other hand, develops commitment. Throughout this novel, Gaines projects the qualities men should develop: maturity, self-worth and commitment in order to become a dignified man. There is a point in life where people make difficult choices that lead to certain consequences. That’s where maturity comes in; when someone is mature they think about the decisions they make, and how they can affect one’s loved ones. Jefferson frustrates those who are willing to help him by avoiding them, ignoring them and pushing them away by saying, “nothing don’t matter no more” (Gaines, 73). It shows that Jefferson is putting up a wall between himself and the world, not knowing how to handle the pain and frustration within him. Grant tries his best to help him mature and realize the pain he has been causing to his loved ones by avoiding their help. Jefferson realizes that he is sorry for the way he talked to Grant’s girlfriend when he got upset. He realizes how beautiful and great she is (Gaines, 232). Jefferson is now a mature young man, setting out to find his self-worth in such a harsh world, closer to becoming dignified. Jefferson is searching within himself to find answers. He doesn’t understand the true value of his life. Jefferson views love “…for youmans” (Gaines, 139). He doesn’t consider himself a human; he doesn’t realize the potential he holds. He thinks that he is incapable of everything, even of loving. He doesn’t seem to know that he can achieve great things and become...
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