A Lesson Before Dying

Topics: White people, Black people, African American Pages: 3 (1088 words) Published: May 8, 2013
Grant is the protagonist of A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest Gaines shows how Grant went through a difficult life in a racist society in the South. Grant spent his life in Bayonne, a segregated racist community which made him intense. He does not believe anything would change and escaping is the only thing he could think of. Grant does not have any confidence in himself and the society. Throughout the novel, he learns how to accept the responsibility of his own life, his relationships with his family and friends, and having respect in the society.

In the beginning of the novel, Gaines tells us that Grant might be deceiving himself, since he distances himself from Jefferson's trial and yet he somehow knows everything that happened there. Grant pictures, “A white man had been killed during a robbery, and through two of the robbers had been killed on the spot, one had been captured, and he, too, would have to die." This shows that Grant was confidence about the story of what happened in that store when three men were killed and the robber has to be killed for what he did.

Tante Lou and Miss Emma wanted Grant to talk to Jefferson about his trial. Grant says, “I’m the teacher ... and I teach what the white folks around here tell me to teach-reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic. They never told me how to keep a black boy out of a liquor store.” This reveals Grant's concern about teaching Jefferson and does not wanted to do it. Also, shows that his own education is based on learning the words of white people and anyways he is respected for his high academic achievement. Although, Grant wants to help his students to prevent being black and poor in the South, he feels useless to do it even if it is his academic race.

Gaines also tells how Grant suffers in a racist society. "Bayonne was a small town of about six thousand. Approximately three thousand five hundred whites; approximately two thousand five hundred colored ... There was a Catholic church uptown for whites;...
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