A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines

Topics: Man, Thought, Learning Pages: 2 (600 words) Published: December 19, 2013
2.In the beginning of the novel A Lesson Before Dying Jefferson's lawyer in an attempt to defend him calls him a pig.  He indicates that Jefferson has no ability to think so he could not have done things with thought.  He is trying to help but had deprived Jefferson of his own self-worth as a man. The idea of what makes a man is central to the idea of the story.  As Grant helps to teach and educate Jefferson he helps to establish a bond with the man.  As Jefferson has the chance to talk with Grant and learn he becomes more aware that he is a man with ideas and thoughts and not an animal. Grant helps Jefferson to identify himself as a man by giving him a voices to be heard.  Being a man is about recognizing that one is a man first.  Grant in many ways had not fully recognized his own manhood. Grant explains to Jefferson that a hero is above other men because he thinks of others before himself. Although he understands the definition, he does not live it. He wants to live for himself. He starts a bar fight in the Rainbow Room, believing he was doing it in defense of Jefferson. In fact, Grant was only thinking of himself never noticing how he hurt others. Not only did he tear up the bar, Vivian had to leave her job early to come drag him out. Following Grant’s criterion, Rev. Ambrose is a hero, having put his entire congregation before himself. Jefferson also has the potential to do something for others that they could not do for themselves. He can make Miss Emma happy by eating her gumbo. He can chip away at the myth of white superiority and show everyone - both white and black - that he is a man. " "At the beginning of the novel, Grant is convinced that any dignity he has comes from his high level of education. This attitude prevents him from getting through to Jefferson, who is of significantly lower social status than Grant. It also brings him into conflict with Reverend Ambrose, who believes that dignity can only come from faith in God--at the Christmas...
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