Symbolism In A Lesson Before Dying

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It has been established over the last few hundred thousand years that the way people communicate with one another differs from relation to relation. For example, a mother whom speaks to her child will interact differently from teenagers that converse with one another in school, or adults who talk at work. In the same way that individuals interact with each other differently, an author, too, makes use of varying writing styles to evoke thoughts and connections with the audience. In the novel A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines, a mixture of symbolism, tone, and point of view are effectively used to captivate readers, and keep the story alive.
Symbols exist in the media all around us; in the books we read, the music we listen to, the television shows we watch, etc. Symbolism in literature is an effect that is used to give an object, person, or action a deeper meaning in the context of the story than it initially gives off. A good example of symbolism in the story is when superintendent Dr. Joseph Morgan arrives at the school for inspection. He makes a remark about the children’s hygiene by stating, “More emphasis on
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. . I could never be a hero. I teach, but I don’t like teaching . . . I hate it. I don’t even like living here. I want to run away. I want to live for myself and for my woman and for nobody else. That is not a hero . . . I am not that kind of person, but I want you to be” (Gaines 191).
Showing the internal conflicts that lay within Grant, this quote helps bring his character to life. The struggles of wanting to move away, but being unable to do so, not living up to others’ expectations, and not being a hero to Jefferson all come across in this meaningful quote, showing the affection that Wiggins has for those whom he loves, and his frustrations towards the injustices of the town. As one can see, effectual use of tone in literature helps with the realistic projection and comprehension of characters, keeping audiences engaged and

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