A Lesson Before Dying By Ernest J. Gaines Essay example

A Lesson Before Dying By Ernest J. Gaines Essay example

Length: 1410 words (4 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Strong Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

In A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines, Grant Wiggins is asked to turn Jefferson, a young man on death row, into an honorable man before his execution. Grant faces many difficulties when Jefferson is unresponsive and refuses to comply with Grant and Aunt Emma’s request. Throughout the story, Grant struggles to find motivation to keep working with Jefferson as he faces the difficulty of racism and prejudice. The author of the novel, Ernest J. Gaines, uses characterization to prove the theme that a lack of compassion in individuals can prevent people from uniting to form a better society, because they do not try to understand one another. In the beginning of the novel, Miss Emma and Tante Lou are threatening Grant into going to visit Mr. Henry in attempts to gain the opportunity to visit Jefferson in jail before his execution. Grant is not compliant and refuses their request by stating, “‘Tante Lou, Miss Emma. Jefferson is dead. It is only a matter of weeks, maybe a couple of months—but he is already dead… He’s dead now. And I can’t raise the dead’” (Gaines 14). As a result of this situation, Miss Emma forces Grant to go meet Mr. Henry because he tried to defy her. When Grant states that Jefferson is “’dead now. And I can’t raise the dead,’” he shows that he does not feel that he can help Jefferson in his situation. Grant reveals that he does not have any hope that Jefferson can be helped because he claims that Jefferson is “already dead.” Grant’s lack of hope distances him from Miss Emma because she is disheartened by Grant’s blunt refusal of her request. His response reveals his lack of compassion because he refuses to try and help Jefferson, even when a close relative makes this request. He does not try to sympathize with M...


... middle of paper ...


...ociety as a whole, it is important to understand these children and support them because they truly are the future. It takes an aspect of understanding to develop beneficial solutions that support growth and development in society. Gaines’ use of characterization and figurative language works to prove the theme that a lack of compassion in individuals can prevent people from uniting to form a better society because they do not try to understand one another. Compassion is important when trying to solve social issues because it can expose individuals to the many different ways others see the world. Recognizing the common emotions and values of people across the world can aid people in coming up with solutions to global issues that are beneficial to a wider array of individuals. Becoming a more understanding society is the start to a more peaceful and prosperous society.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

A Lesson before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines Essay

- 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 in jail. Grant, the story’s main protagonist must find it within himself to help Jefferson see that he is a man, which will allow him to walk bravely to his fate that lies in the execution chair....   [tags: A Lesson before Dying Ernest J. Gaines Essays]

Strong Essays
1988 words (5.7 pages)

Essay on A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines

- A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines This book shows us that, even in the face of hopelessness, there is indeed hope, and there is a need to move forward. There is nothing that can change what the outcome will be in the end. However, in light of this, a person is left with two options. Either they could deny and fight it the entire way, or accept it, learn from it, and move forward. This paper will show you,, when given this situation, what the outcome will be when one choices to accept it and move on....   [tags: Gaines Lesson Before Dying]

Free Essays
1878 words (5.4 pages)

Essay on A Lesson Before Dying, by Ernest Gaines

- “I never found myself needing that piece of paper,” is a remark actor Johnny Depp made back in 2010 about his relationship with longtime partner Vanessa Paradis. Depp and Paradis have been in a relationship since 1998 and have two children together, Lily Rose and Jack. Another member of Hollywood’s elite, Latin singer Shakira, shares a similar view saying that marriage is like a contract, and that is unromantic. However, celebrities living like Shakira and Depp are also committing fornication and already view themselves as being married; the marriage is just not official....   [tags: Premarital Sex, Consequences]

Strong Essays
835 words (2.4 pages)

Essay A Lesson Before Dying By Ernest J. Gaines

- Ernest J. Gaines once said, “We all know- at least intellectually- that we are going to die. The difference is being told, “Okay, it’s tomorrow at 10 a.m.” How do you react to that. How do you face it. That, it seems, to me, is the ultimate test of life.” Throughout literature, a common pattern of allusion directly relating back to Jesus Christ, his death, and the Bible is found. One such novel, A Lesson Before Dying written by Ernest J. Gaines, follows the story of a poor, black working man and his journey of self- significance and realization in a series of Jesus Christ symbolism....   [tags: Jesus, Christ, Novel, Religion]

Strong Essays
1336 words (3.8 pages)

A Lesson Before Dying, By Ernest Gaines And The Grapes Of Wrath Essay

- Throughout the hundreds of years, individuals have pondered the impact of heavenly or insidious force, environment, hereditary qualities, even excitement, as deciding how free any individual is in settling on good decisions. Fate, a result of the past, is often described as the advancement of occasions out of man 's control, dictated by an extraordinary force. In any case that someone may utilize their freewill can reflect upon their outcomes, decided upon a supreme force, whether they are positive or negative....   [tags: The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck, Life]

Strong Essays
1152 words (3.3 pages)

A Lesson Before Dying By Ernest J. Gaines Essay example

- In A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines, Grant Wiggins is asked to turn Jefferson, a young man on death row, into an honorable man before his execution. Grant faces many difficulties when Jefferson is unresponsive and refuses to comply with Grant and Aunt Emma’s request. Throughout the story, Grant struggles to find motivation to keep working with Jefferson as he faces the difficulty of racism and prejudice. The author of the novel, Ernest J. Gaines, uses characterization to prove the theme that a lack of compassion in individuals can prevent people from uniting to form a better society, because they do not try to understand one another....   [tags: Slavery, Slavery in the United States]

Strong Essays
1410 words (4 pages)

A Lesson Before Dying, by Ernest J. Gaines Essays

- While we all would agree that racism is immoral and has no place in a modern society, that was not the case in the U.S. in the 1940s. At the time African Americans were treated as second-class citizens, it was made near-impossible for them to vote, and they were discriminated in many ways including in education, socially and in employment. It was a time in which segregation and racism perforated the laws and society, a time in which African Americans were “separate but equal,” segregation was legal and in full force....   [tags: racism, african americans]

Strong Essays
1012 words (2.9 pages)

A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines Essay

- A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines Critique Ernest J. Gaines was born in 1933 on a Louisiana plantation in the midst of the Great Depression. As a young boy of 9, he began his work in the fields. He spent his childhood digging potatoes, and for a days labor was rewarded with 50 cents. He was raised during this time by his aunt, Augusteen Jefferson, who showed Gaines a determination most of us could only dream of, as she cared for her family with no legs to support her. At age 15, after moving to Vallejo, California with his parents, Gaines discovered the joy of the public library....   [tags: Literature Critique Gaines]

Free Essays
1027 words (2.9 pages)

The Character of Jefferson in A Lesson Before Dying Essay

- Jefferson, a black man condemned to die by the electric chair in the novel, A Lesson Before Dying, by Ernest J. Gaines, is perhaps the strongest character in African-American literature. Jefferson is a courageous young black man that a jury of all white men convicts of a murder he has not committed ; yet he still does not let this defeat destroy his personal character. Ernest Gaines portrays Jefferson this way to illustrate the fundamental belief that mankind’s defeats do not necessarily lead to his destruction....   [tags: A Lesson Before Dying, Ernest J. Gaines]

Free Essays
642 words (1.8 pages)

Essay on A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines

- A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines Vancil initiates the criticism of A lesson Before Dying in an old-fashioned, excessive religious genre of attitudes. He claims that Grant Wiggins is reluctant to atonement for guilt to uphold the Christian faith belief system within the Quarters, the small community of Wiggins’ residence. Wiggins has just evolved into the Diaspora of African-American people whose adapted a new way of thought and forever changing lifestyle alterations ranging from the southern to western regions in America....   [tags: Literature Novel Critique]

Strong Essays
978 words (2.8 pages)