A Lesson Before Dying, by Ernest J. Gaines

analytical Essay
1012 words
1012 words

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. Apartheid was also everywhere from the books to in society. Blacks were not truly seen as equal as they were seen the the lesser of the two and it very much felt that way. Blacks were oppressed in many ways including having unreachable requirements to vote, such regulations included literacy tests, poll taxes, and elaborate registration systems, but it only started there. The novel A Lesson Before Dying is about a young, college-educated man and a convict, Grant Wiggins and Jefferson. Grant is asked to make a man out of Jefferson who is convicted of killing a white man during a robbery in which he got dragged along to. Grant is asked by Emma Lou to make a man out of Jefferson, so if anything, Jefferson can die with dignity. Something that he was striped of when he was tried and his attorney used the defence that he is a hog. While trying to get through to Jefferson, Grant struggles because he is so far and separated from his own community. He holds resentment toward the white man and wants to get away from his town which he thinks is an on-going vicious cycle of misery. The novel A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines depicts the social and racial injustices faced by African Americans in the South in the late 40... ... middle of paper ... ...erican Civil Liberties Union, n.d. Web. 07 Mar. 2014. "Civil Rights for Minorities During and After World War II." Civil Rights for Minorities During and After World War II. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Mar. 2014. Gaines, Ernest J. A Lesson Before Dying. N.p.: Vintage, 1994. Open Library. Web. 10 Feb. 2014. "Martin Luther King GPS Tour." Civil Rights Timeline of 1940s-African American Events in Atlanta. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Mar. 2014. "The Depression, The New Deal, and World War II." African American Odyssey: (Part 1). N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Mar. 2014. Wells, Colin. "A Lesson Before Dying." Literature and Its Times Supplement 1: Profiles of 300 Notable Literary Works and the Historical Events that Influenced Them. Joyce Moss. Vol. 2: The Great Depression and the New Deal to Future Times (1930s -). Detroit: Gale, 2003. 249-258. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 12 Mar. 2014.

In this essay, the author

  • Opines that racism is immoral and has no place in a modern society, but that was not the case in the 1940s.
  • Analyzes how the novel a lesson before dying depicts the social and racial injustices faced by african americans in the late 40s.
  • Analyzes how the court's stance to criminalize jefferson is detrimental because it makes him lose his dignity as a man.
  • Explains that african americans faced many prejudices in the late 1940s, such as a white sailor attacking incoming planes with an unnamed anti-aircraft gun until his ammunition ran out, and the navy refused to recognize his courageous act.
  • Analyzes how illiterate members of the black community were turned away from voting if they weren't able to fill out the sheet.
  • Analyzes how injustice is social and plagues the book in many ways. when tante lou, miss emma, and grant arrive at the pichot plantation, they have to go through the back door.
  • Explains that blacks were targeted by removing the right to vote for certain crimes that they were more likely than whites to commit. manipulating voting booths and administering tests prevented them from voting.
  • Explains that in the late 1940s many african americans were at a disadvantage because prejudice and racism were rampant. this is highlighted in ernest j. gaines' book a lesson before dying.
  • Describes the civil rights for minorities during and after world war ii.
  • Analyzes how the great depression, the new deal, and world war ii affected african american odyssey.
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