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The women that surround Grant in “A Lesson Before Dying” by Ernest Gaines are all catalysts for his eventual change away from the bitterness and doubts. Without Miss Emma or Tante Lou, it seems natural to conclude that Grant would have stagnated in his despair and spent his life feeling angry and irritable. However, since Emma and Tante Lou force Grant to go visit Jefferson and keep him motivated to stick with the task they’ve assigned him, they can be said to be the real force in the novel—rather than Grant.
The role of women in “A Lesson Before Dying” is quite significant as they are the foundations of community and family. Vivian, while an equal force in Grant’s eventual change in attitude that constitutes a form of double consciousness in “A Lesson Before Dying” by Ernest Gaines and seems to have a different effect. While Grant tends many times to shy away from interaction with his aunt and Emma throughout “A Lesson Before Dying”, and even in one of the most important events in “A Lesson Before Dying” he finally opens up to Vivian at the end and admits his weakness by laying his weary head in her lap.
Performing a character analysis of Grant in "A Lesson Before Dying" by Ernest Gaines is a complex task because his understanding of his community shifts. The first line of “A Lesson Before Dying” when Grant states offers one of the most important quotes from “A Lesson Before Dying” by Earnest Gaines, “I was there—but I wasn’t really there” (1) can not only be taken literally since he wasn’t actually at Jefferson’s trial, but in the metaphorical sense as well. Even though he part of the Tante Lou, Miss Emma, and Vivian’s lives, he seems to be only there in presence rather than in spirit. The first half of “A Lesson Before Dying” shows Grant always separating