Grant Wiggins, the narrator, is the son of cane-cutters on a plantation in the Deep South. Unlike those before him, Grant is the school teacher on the plantation and has attended college not only to become educated, but to escape the heavy prejudice and racism against blacks.
This negative environment has made him bitter and have little faith in himself, society, or the church. He does not believe anything will ever change and feels he can not help others or make a difference in their lives. Meanwhile, Jefferson, a sensitive, black man of below-average intelligence, takes it to heart when his lawyer says he is not smart enough to commit murder and calls him a hog. He becomes morose and remote as he sits in a cell of dark times and feelings awaiting his death by electric chair.
Jefferson also begins to mentally and physically live the lifestyle of a hog. He was arrested and tried for murder. The jury still brings back a guilty verdict. She asks Grant for help, as he is an educated man. However, after immense amounts of force from his aunt Lou, he agrees to try to help Jefferson. Grant spends many uncomfortable visits in the cell with Jefferson. When Grant attempts to teach Jefferson about dignity, Jefferson insists that dignity is for humans, not hogs.
He imitates a hog and tries to anger Grant with ignorance, but Grant keeps his cool. Each visit ends in failure, but Grant continues to try to reach Jefferson. Jefferson admits that he wants a gallon of ice cream because he almost never had any. This conversation begins to break down the barrier between Grant and Jefferson. Grant buys Jefferson a small radio and brings him a notebook to write down whatever thoughts come to his mind.
Grant continually suggests that they run away from their hometown and their past in the South. Jefferson asks Grant if he believes in heaven and Grant replies that he does not, but his atheism does not make him a good man. Grant explains that the blacks in the quarter have always been enslaved to white men, and that when Jefferson was called a hog, the entire black community was degraded even more.
Now, Jefferson has the opportunity to stand up for his race. In March, the governor sets the execution date for two weeks after Easter. In order to avoid thinking about his own complicity in the racist system, Grant initially does not want to help Jefferson.
Eventually Grant comes to believe that Jefferson can be more than a convict, more than an oppressed black man. He comes to believe that Jefferson can change society. He encourages Jefferson not just to believe in himself, but also to conceive of himself as a man more important than any man to live in their town.
Everyone, including Jefferson, always believed that Jefferson had to learn his lowly place, but Grant teaches him that he can define his own place. Grant helps Jefferson at first reluctantly, and in order to succeed in teaching Jefferson how to save himself, Grant himself must undergo a series of changes.
These changes occur during his interactions with Jefferson, but also with Vivian, with Reverend Ambrose, and with himself. Only when Grant changes can he help Jefferson. Only when Grant realizes and confesses that he needs a savior does Jefferson become a savior.
- A lesson before dying Title: A Lesson Before Dying, New York, Vintage Contemporaries, Scene: A small Cajun community outside of Bayonne Louisiana one hundred years after Emancipation. It is the story of a teacher and a prisoner who have to work together and find what it is to be a man.
A Lesson Before Dying study guide contains a biography of Ernest J. Gaines, literature essays, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis.
Unlike most editing & proofreading services, we edit for everything: grammar, spelling, punctuation, idea flow, sentence structure, & more. Get started now! "A Lesson Before Dying" is a fantastic novel written by Ernest J. Gaines. Grant Wiggins, Jefferson, and Paul are three characters from the novel that benefited, embodied, and understood the most important lesson before dying.
In A Lesson Before Dying, Grant Wiggins, an African American school teacher, finds himself being torn between " two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings " while living in the South. Grant is a very educated person, but is often frustrated by the way he is treated by white people throughout his town. Essay about A lEsson Befor dying. 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 right after the great depression. A society stricken by poverty is depicted early in the book.