A Lesson Before Dying

In: Computers and Technology

Submitted By philly2003
Words 717
Pages 3
A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines reveals many fundamental and universal ideas. The book gives a reader a lot of mental pabulum. It makes people think about life and its value, about people’s relations and behaviors, and about the past and the present. The book teaches people to recognize injustice in the society and to take responsibilities to improve it; it teaches to accept the past as it is and to face problems; it teaches that a lie can be constructive, and that it can decrease people’s sufferings.
Grant Wiggins, the protagonist of the novel, often criticizes and bitterly resents racist society. He tends to run away and escape the society he feels will never change. Like Professor Antoine, he believes no one can change society without being destroyed in the process. Jefferson’s trial reinforces Grant’s pessimistic attitude. Grant sees the wickedness of a system designed to uphold the superiority of one race over another. He sees a man struck down to the level of a hog by a few words from an attorney. During the course of the novel, however, Grant comes to realize that cynicism like his is akin to lying down and dying, and that even small victories can accumulate and produce change. Rather than looking at Jefferson as a hopeless stranger, Grant accepts Jefferson’s plight as his own and begins to fight for Jefferson’s salvation. He accepts his duty to the society he inhabits, thereby taking the first step toward improving that society.
Alongside with the theme of facing problems and responsibilities, goes the question of accepting the past. In fact, the past is inescapable. It exists and influences people’s lives. It predetermines people’s present and their future. The heroes of the book, Grant and Vivian, are haunted by their pasts as well. White people treated Grant as their inferior as he was growing up. Grant deliberately severs himself from his…...

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