A Lesson Before Dying Paper

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A dynamic character is one who grows and changes during the course of a novel, and in Ernest Gaines’ novel A Lesson Before Dying, Jefferson is a perfect example of a dynamic character. Through the course of the novel, Jefferson grows from thinking of himself as no better than a hog, and even acting like a hog, into a man who is able to bravely walk to his own death. The first time Jefferson is introduced is during his own trial in the very first chapter. However, it is after the trial when Jefferson begins his journey as a dynamic character. When Grant first sees Jefferson at the jail, Jefferson is naught but an empty shell. He is distant and pays little attention to Grant, Miss Emma, or any of his visitors. Even his vague attempts at acknowledging them are empty and meaningless, as can be seen from this quote: “He looked at her as though he did not know who she was, or what she was doing there.” (73) Throughout the first few visits, Jefferson is quiet and moody. He says only a few words to his visitors, none of which are positive in the slightest. “It don’t matter… Chicken, dirt, it don’t matter.” (73) These are just a couple of Jefferson’s sparse comments during the first few visits. His other few comments have to do with the electric chair. At this stage of the novel, Jefferson is merely wallowing in self-pity, and he doesn’t spare a single thought for anyone else. After each visit, Miss Emma is increasingly unwell due to the fact that Jefferson, a man once filled with life, is an empty shell who barely even responds when spoken to. Because of the trial, Jefferson is resigned to the fact that he’s going to die, and that there’s nothing he can do about it, so he will do nothing. However, Jefferson does not remain at this despondent point forever. The first major turning point on his path of growth occurs when Grant first visits Jefferson alone. During the 2nd third of the novel, Jefferson becomes much more vocal. However, this change can be viewed...
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