A Lesson Before Dying
For my final book review I read the novel A Lesson Before Dying By Ernest J. Gains. The book took place in the 1940 right after the great depression. A society stricken by poverty is depicted early in the book. The atmosphere in the first chapter is leading us into the idea of: how can justice prevail in a society dominated by a single group of people? If this story took place in modern day I believe that question would not be as relevant as it is in the fortys.
Grant Wiggins, one of the main characters is a teacher at an elementary school, Grant is a very bitter man for being so young, maybe it is because he has known nothing but segregation and racisms his whole life, growing up in Louisiana. Over the course of the novel, he learns to accept responsibility for his own life, for his relations with other people, and for the condition of Southern society. Jefferson is another one of the main characters; Jefferson is a black man who is described as being sensitive and kind of stupid. Jefferson is accused for a murder and faces the death penalty, he becomes very depressed waiting on death row because he feel so worthless in a white dominate world, but Grant befriends him and helps him out before he dies.
Jefferson is convicted of murder, while in his cell the hears his own lawyer call him a hog, this upsets him very much and he realizes how the white dominate the world and that justice can not prevail in world. Grant is asked by his aunt and Jeffersons grandmother to go in to the cell and talk to Jefferson so he can die with dignity and lash back at the society that degraded him. He agrees and restores faith back into Jefferson and uses his death to benefit other black people teach them to be strong. The rising action in this book is when Grant agrees to help Jefferson and visits him regularly. Grant progresses slowly at first, as Jefferson refuses to emerge from his shell of anger and resentment. The climax accusers when Grant buys Jefferson a small notebook to write down his thoughts, and Jefferson agrees. The notebook serves to help them communicate falling action occurs when Grant cannot bear to attend Jefferson’s execution. He remains at his schoolhouse, but hears from Paul, the white deputy, that Jefferson did, in fact, die with pride and courage.
There were three distinct themes in A Lesson before Dyeing. One is the ability to recognize injustice and accept responsibility; the potential inherent in death; the inescapable past. The theme regarding the potential inherent in death is shown by the amount of times the author alludes to the bible and to Jesus Christ and his crucifixion, the author really makes is clear that a man’s death can, in fact, be a meaningful event, as an affirmation of an honorable and just life. We are all aware of an inescable past just like Grant, Grant resents his background. He was treated as an inferior most of his life. Throughout the book.
I think very highly of this book, it was one of the first times I really enjoyed a book and pulled a lot out of it. I now realize how important it is to live every day with a positive out look and live everyday with honor, so when I do die I too can die with admiration and dignity. I respect Jefferson even though he maybe murders somebody he was able to turn that around and die with dignity.
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