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Ernest J. Gaines: a Lesson Before Dying

By NancyHen Feb 06, 2013 988 Words
Nancy Hen
English 102
Mr shimizu
A lesson before dying paper
After reading the” lesson before dying “by Ernest J. Gaines the two characters that Really peeked my interest was Grant Wiggins and Tane Lou. These two are in relation by blood. this is very surprising being they are the total opposites when it comes to their characters. So I will be comparing these 2 characters. Tante Lou is the aunt of Grant and tante Lou are the total opposites of each other. Grant is so serious all the time and there’s something on his mind constantly. But he chooses to just stay silent about whatever he is thinking or going through. Whereas Tante Lou is the opposite she’s really free spirited. She takes him and really cares for him even through his flaws. Even through all his obstacles she’s able to change him for the better. He becomes a hero in this story he’s the protagonist in this story. He comes off as being so arrogant and wants freedom, respect but doesn’t do anything about it. But however great aunt tante is anything but shy she will step up. She’s a role model in his life and the black community. Her actions throughout the story show that she has a big heart that loves but also is bossy. She accepts grant for who he is but says hey don’t put your people down. Stand up and use that education your smart let people see that side of you make an impact. Tante Lou is a unique and beautiful person she finds the good things in life through anything. She has a strong belief in god and his good works. Grant goes to church and is religious as well but he seems lost. He’s there but not really and needs direction. So these two characters kind of balance each other out. Grant carries himself as being protagonists throughout the story because he is the narrator in the story. He comes off as being arrogant because he feels that there is no hope for his community. Unlike the others he actually got away and went to college and earned a degree. He wants equality treatment and we see this without this he feels enslaved. Based on his personality he is quiet on the inside but has something to say. There is a part that of him that hasn’t really been exposed His demeanor is that he has used his formal education as a way of distinguishing himself from the others. The fact that he feels this way he doesn’t feel the need to try and make a change or impact at all for his people. Grant feels like nothing will ever change and that he’s an African american stuck in a white racist world. Grant was the only one to leave for a temporarily short period when he went to get a college education and that was rare for the newly freed slaves. Even after the emancipation and getting and education without the barriers they had before. He sticks around but has no reason to stay which is strange he feels enslaved even when he isn’t His overall demeanor is that he seems conflicted with himself and he’s looking for a fight to win. His moods vary depending on how he feels in the story he is very mysterious. He changes from being afraid when first helping Jefferson to being proud. Then when he is with Vivian and his aunt tante he’s kind and caring. When it’s just him he’s is very standoffish and he is very reserved. His character dresses just as his personality is he wears bow ties, white collared shirt and trousers and dress shoes. This is what he wears pretty when it comes to clothes. He wants to make a statement by dressing like this and who he is.

Tante is the Aunt of Grant and all we have to go on is her remarks throughout the story. She has what grant lacks which is hope and resilience in this story. The facts that grant has a cynical branded of atheism makes her disapprove it. She is a very spiritual person and is highly motivated by god. Tante constantly is trying to see the good in people and change them for the better. She dresses respectably in society and insists on being chauffeured in the back seat to the pichots. This goes to show you that even though they were regarded as the lower and poor class she didn’t let that affect her. She regarded the way she dressed as the way of saying just because we don’t have money and education doesn’t make us different. She isn’t going to give in to the concept that blacks in the south are the bottom rung. Tante not only is a leader in the community but also in grants life. People look at her to step up and take action and she does by telling grant to be compassionate and helpful. She forces his hand to help Jefferson who was convicted of a crime which he never did. Her faith in god and good works makes her whats good especially for grant in every way. Although physically free, Grant lives in a mental prison of his own making created by his hatred of whites, his arrogance, and his detachment from the black community. As an educated man, he sees himself as superior to people like Jefferson and Rev. Instead of preparing him to contribute to his community, his formal education has taught him to despise his own people. Consequently, he uses his role as a teacher not to inspire and uplift his students but to humiliate and ridicule them, much as his own teacher. Matthew Antoine humiliated and ridiculed him. Thus, instead of using his skills and talents to change the cycle of poverty and violence, Grant perpetuates the cycle by failing to challenge the system.

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