In the novel A Lesson Before Dying Grant Wiggins struggles with society because of his race, prejudices, and the woman he loves. He is angry about being a black man in a racist white community. He can”t help his own prejudice against mulatto’s (part white part African American), Miss Emma the aunt of a convicted black man is asking Grant to save her nephew, and to top it all off the woman he is in love with will not leave the South with him. Grant’s struggle in society is important to the novel because it helps him to figure out his flaws and allow him to continue on living.Order now
To understand the importance of Grant’s struggles one must first understand the struggles themselves. Grant’s partial racism towards mulattos comes from his teacher Matthew Antoine. Antoine was a mulatto and like most of them felt superior to blacks. This is the same reason Grant dislikes the South. He lived and worked on a plantation all his life and his dream is to leave the South for good. Preferably with the woman he loves. Grant has fallen in love with a woman named Vivian. She is a mulatto and a strong Christian.
Grant knows they must keep their love a secret or else society would not accept it since she is not yet divorced and has children. Society has already turned down the fact he is Atheist. But how is all this important to the novel? Grant was asked by Miss Emma to help her nephew Jefferson, who was sentenced to death by electrocution, to die with dignity. Grant is unsure if he can help Jefferson because he doesn”t know how to “help Jefferson die when he himself does not know how to live.
Grant’s assignment to help Jefferson die with dignity has taught him some important things too. Seeing Jefferson the way he was for so long awaiting his execution made Grant notice some things about himself. He was able to see his hypocrisy. Grant was always partial towards mulattos for acting superior to blacks when he himself was doing the same to his students. Grant yells and dumps all of his issues on his students to make himself feel superior. Grant also recalls a previous young black mans execution.
Grant thinks back to another mans execution where the man yelled out to Joe Louis to save him after over hearing two men talking about Joe Louis and Jackie Robinson. Grant then wondered if Jefferson would call out to Jackie Robinson for help. It was here that Grant realized he would have to act as Jefferson’s role model. Since Jefferson has given up looking in Jesus Christ for salvation and Grant can”t convince him due to his atheist beliefs he realizes he must act as Jefferson’s higher power. In Conclusion Grant’s struggles with society are important to the novel because they shape the novel.
Grant struggles with racism in his community, his own prejudices, and complications with the woman he loves. Grant’s struggle in society is important to the novel because it helps him to figure out his flaws and allows him to continue on living. Grant has seen his mistakes first hand with his hypocrisy. He has seen his prejudice flaws, and has helped a lost man find his way while simultaneously healing himself. Those struggles are what surely shape this novel and they clearly state their importance.