Jefferson, a black man is sentenced to die by the electric chair. Jefferson is an audacious young black man that a jury of all white men convicts of a murder he has not convicted. Yet with the prejudice views of his skin color, he does not let it break his personal character. Through its societal attitudes, in the period of the early civil rights movement, Gaines' The Lesson Before Dying suggests that to find his identity, Jefferson and Grant, must first establish trust with others and look internally to himself and believe that mankind's defeat do not lead to his destruction. Gaines depicts the toll that social injustice can take on the human spirit.
To begin, Jefferson is caught at a scene where a man he was with and the store owner get into an argument which leads into a shooting leaving both of them dead. Not knowing what to do, Jefferson stays there where he is arrested for the crime even though he had nothing to do with it. In this city of Bayonne, Louisiana, segregation is afflicted strongly on the people of this community. As Jefferson sits in the court room getting prosecuted for a crime he did not commit, his attorney begins his case. The attorney begins his case by saying that, "The Defense argued that Jefferson was inefficient from all charges except being at the wrong place at the wrong time" (Gaines 7). The story being during the civil rights movement played a huge role in society, because Bayonne was still segregated. The whites had nothing to do with the blacks and did not want anything to do with them. The attorney continues to talk and says, "He does not even know the size of his clothes or shoes" (Gaines 8) and "Ask him to quote one passage from the constitution or Bill of Rights" (Gaines 7). Obviously the attorney never made his own opinion on Jefferson but yet he was able to judge him off of his looks. From the beginning of the case, it showed many...
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