top-rated free essay

Lesson Before Dying Essay

By Lauren-Sopak Jun 09, 2015 1122 Words
The Ultimate Lesson
The novel A Lesson Before Dying written by Ernest J. Gaines takes place during the middle of the great depression in a small cajun community. Jefferson, a young africanamerican man is caught in a liquor store shootout and is the only survivor. Jefferson being a colored man and only survivor, he is wrongfully convicted. Miss Emma, Jefferson’s godmother, asks the sheriff for visitation rights for school teacher, Grant Wiggins. Miss Emma wants Grant to help jefferson become a man before he dies. Grant teaches Jefferson to become a man and to die with dignity. Although Grant teaches Jefferson, Grant learns from Jefferson.

Grant, a school teacher, is asked to help teach Jefferson how to become a man before he dies. Even though Grant is teaching Jefferson, Grant is sceptical because he only teaches reading, writing, etc. 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” (13). Grant is revealing his anxiety about teaching Jefferson his final lesson to become a man. Grant is struggling to reach Jefferson but he continued to see him periodically, showing a stable person and someone he can trust. Later in the book Grant breaks through to Jefferson. “I want to chip away at the myth by standing. I want you - yes, you - to call them liars. I want you to show them that you are as much a man-more a man than they can ever be. That Jury? You call them men? That judge? Is he a man? The governor is no better. They

play by the rules their forefathers created hundreds of years ago. Three-fifths human and they believe it to this day” (192). Grant is talking to Jefferson while walking around the day room during a visit. Grant is now finally realizing why Miss Emma wants jefferson to die a man, not a hog. Jefferson dying a man would make him become a hero to the community. Grant is a school teacher but soon realizes that teaching Jefferson isn't going to be reading and writing that it is going to be mannerism. In spite the fact that Grant teaches Jefferson, Jefferson teaches Grant more.

Jefferson has been taught a lot but now he uses this is what teaches Grant. Finally, Grant is able to reach out to Jefferson by buying him a radio. Grant buys the radio to have Jefferson connect with the outside world and know what is going on. Earlier in the book Jefferson did not show much respect for his Nanan but this changes once he starts to trust Grant. “The look on his Nanana’s face, the look on my Aunt’s face the way Jefferson raised the spoonful of gumbo and rice to his mouth with both hands, and dipped his spoon again, and raised it to his mouth, because I had asked him to do it” (196). Jefferson now realizes how important it is to his Nanan to die a man and he realizes how much she loves him. Without Grant Jefferson would still laying on his bed and not talking to anyone. Grant showing Jefferson that he is always coming and letting him into his personal life makes Jefferson trust him. Jefferson trusting Grant is a big step for Grant to learn from him. “You’re more a man than I am, Jefferson” (225). Grant is talking to Jefferson about two weeks before the execution. Jefferson thinks he is saying this because he is about to die. Grant knows that Jefferson is more a man than he is because he has had his eyes shut until this very moment when Jefferson is

accepting what is happening to him. This is what makes Jefferson more a man than Grant. Jefferson has taught Grant indirectly by becoming a man. Jefferson teaches Grant indirectly by becoming a hero. In the beginning Grant struggles to see Jefferson transforming to a man but suddenly this changes when jefferson starts to trust Grant and listen to him. When Grant is at the Rainbow Bar he is thinking about Jackie Robinson becoming a hero to the colored because of what he has accomplished and this is when he realizes that Jefferson dying a man would make him out a hero.”A hero does for others. He would do anything for people he loves, because he knows it would make their lives better. I am not that kind of person, but i want you to be. You could give something to her, to me, to those children in the quarter. You could give something i never could… the white people out there are saying you don't have it - that you're a hog, not a man. But i know they are wrong (191). Grant talks to Jefferson and wants him to do what he is not able to, Grant is understanding more of what it is going to take for Jefferson and to prove “the white folks” wrong. Jefferson dong this not only would teach everyone and give them something but would show Grant that hes a good person and a good teacher at that. And that seeing what he is teaching jefferson and jefferson executing what he says is the ultimate lesson. The day is now here and everyone is waiting around to see what will happen. People including the white folks do this because they know he is innocent. Miss Emma has gotten older and weaker and her final wish in life is to se Jefferson walk up to the chair a man. “he was the strongest person in the crowded room, Grant Wiggins” (253). Paul, the security guard at the prison, comes to the quarter of Grants school to inform him of the news. He said he was proud of Jefferson and that everyone knew he was the strongest man in the room. This

was his Nanana’s final wish in life and he was able to fulfill it for her. Jefferson taught Grant a lesson by becoming a man from the boy he was when he was in the liquor store.
All in all Jefferson taught the ultimate lesson. Grant may have been teaching Jefferson but ultimately he was being taught. Jefferson took awhile to realize where his focus should be and not let “The White Folks” win by him dying a hog. Grant was able to teach Jefferson many things but believing that they could be done was hard for Grant, so seeing Jefferson become respectful and honor his last of life is what taught Grant. The ultimate lesson was Jefferson's death. Jeffersons death made Grant open his eyes and become a man.

Cite This Document

Related Documents

  • A Lesson Before Dying

    ...In A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest Gaines, Mr. Grant Wiggins' life crises were the center of the story. Although he was supposed to make Jefferson into a man, he himself became more of one as a result. Not to say that Jefferson was not in any way transformed from the "hog" he was into an actual man, but it could be believed this story was really...

    Read More
  • A Lesson Before Dying - Paper 1

    ...Cotina Gould ENG 102 April 11, 2012 Ernest J. Gaines-“A Lesson before Dying” “A Lesson before Dying is a fictional novel written by Ernest J. Gaines. Published and copy written in 1993, the novel is set to create an image of life in a small community in the 1940’s. Jefferson, a young black...

    Read More
  • Transformation of grant wiggins essay

    ... Eng 088 Book Essay 11/25/13 Transformation Essay Ernest J. Gaines writes a novel, A Lesson Before Dying. The story takes place in Bayonne, Louisiana in the 1940’s. Jefferson a black man is accused of a murder he did not do and is called a hog by his defendant lawyer. Mrs. Emma, his godmother, wants Grant, Jefferson...

    Read More
  • A Lesson Before Dying: the Story

    ...A Lesson before Dying, one of Ernest J. Gaines later works, was written in 1993. Some of his earlier works include A Gathering of Old Men and In My Father's House. The novel covers a time period when blacks were still treated unfairly and looked down upon. Jefferson, a main character, has been wrongly accused of a crime and awaits his execution ...

    Read More
  • A Lesson Before Dying Written by Ernest J. Gaines

    ...A Lesson Before Dying Written By Ernest J. Gaines Essay By Alli Francis Lessons are told so others can see the significance of a story or event. They are learned through instruction and support from others and by personal experience. Several characters in Ernest Gaines' A Lesson Before Dying experienced this, particularly Jefferson and Gran...

    Read More
  • A Lesson Before Dying Major Works Data Sheet

    ...Data Sheet – English 1 Honors Block: 1AB Date: 4/27/13 Title: A Lesson Before Dying Author: Ernest J. Gaines Genre: Historical Fiction Title Associations or Predictions: Given the title, A Lesson Before Dying, we can infer and predict that a character in the book will die. Also, we can predict that before they die, they w...

    Read More
  • Ernest J. Gaines: a Lesson Before Dying

    ...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 com...

    Read More
  • A Lesson Before Dying - The Role of Women

    ...Sigourney Ng  English 2 EXP  December 16, 2014  Period 2  A Lesson Before Dying:  The Role of Women    Women may often be overlooked in society, but they are as equally important as men and  contribute just as much to the world. The women set in the 1940s in Bayonne, Louisiana in the  novel ...

    Read More

Discover the Best Free Essays on StudyMode

Conquer writer's block once and for all.

High Quality Essays

Our library contains thousands of carefully selected free research papers and essays.

Popular Topics

No matter the topic you're researching, chances are we have it covered.