A Lesson Before Dying Essay. A Punishment For The Murder


A Lesson Before Dying Essay“You are what you believe in yourself to be” – it is the main theme of A Lesson Before Dying essay. It is an interesting story about two absolutely different men: Grant is well-educated black teacher and Jefferson – a man, sentenced to death.  Lesson Before Dying essay combines two completely different personalities with different fates. It is really interesting to see how the events are developing, and, I hope, that our short essay will be useful and interesting for you. Our writers can help you to cope with any kind of written work. Just let us know.

The Author

“A Lesson Before Dying” was written by famous African-American writer Ernest James Gaines. He is considered to be one of the most talented writers, his novels were translated in different languages (including Chinese). And a few of his works became popular movies. The novel “A Lesson before dying” he wrote in 1993, and it was his eighth novel. This novel won The National Books Critics Circle Award for fiction.

The Book Title

The book title is unusual and shortly tells one of the general motives of this story.  The story tells us about Grant and his efforts to give Jefferson some lessons. The most significant Grant’s goal was to help Jefferson to become another person. But firstly Grant himself should comprehend the meaning of this concept (who is a real man and what he should to do). Later the reader suddenly understood that at last both of them have achieved their goals. At one moment Grant says the magnificent phrase: “I probably would not have noticed it at all had not a butterfly, a yellow butterfly with dark spots…, not lit there. What had brought it there? I watched it until I could not see it anymore. Yes, I told myself. It is finally over.”

Suddenly Grant understood that Jefferson was a good student and absolutely learnt a lesson before dying. It means that Grant himself also learnt something and he benefited from this unusual practice.

Racism In The Novel

“A Lesson Before Dying” is an unusual novel. Reading this tragic story we can understand that through the whole novel, the narrator tells about the eternal opposition of racism and injustice. As for me, racism was always a great problem, and I am not sure that nowadays this problem has disappeared. Misunderstandings between black and white people were forever. Ernest James Gaines wanted to establish his readers that there is a glimmer of hope for people to overcome racism in his novel.

We can observe the problem of racism in several episodes in the novel. First is when the author told us, that there were 12 white men as juries. They should give a verdict to Jefferson. Later we can see another episode with injustice. The court decided that it will be better for Jefferson to have a white man as a lawyer. And this white lawyer allowed himself to call Jefferson a HOG. It was very humiliating. At last Jefferson was sentenced. Everybody understood that Jefferson’s death was something like a sacrifice. He died and now white people in the society should better comprehend the importance of the black population in the country.

The Main Characters

The recital starts with a death of Mr. Grope. As we see later, he was killed by two black men. In reality Jefferson had nothing to this murder; he was just an innocent easy rider. But the fate was unkind to him and Jefferson was blamed. Many people decided that he was a killer. His attorney decided that it would be fair to put Jefferson in the electric chair. The counsel called Jefferson a hog, but not even a man. After such an awful verdict Jefferson’s relatives asked Grant Wiggins (a black school teacher) to help the guilty to turn from a hog into a real man. But everything is not so simple. At first Sheriff should allow such lessons. During their unusual communication two men (Jefferson and Grant) became good friends.

Grant Wiggins – is a usual man.  He teaches at ordinary school. He is really the exclusive well-educated black man in their region. Grant belongs to black community, but his life and successful career is still cannot be sterling and he should always respect the white people and say them "Sir.” It was the impression, that Grant was always torn between himself – two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings… When he spoke with a clever white man, he was absolutely sure that he is stupid.  He is always upset, because he understands how white people treat him. White people were the main part of the society, that is why Grant had to act in a certain manner. He was sure that his color of skin lows him to the worst level. Grant is always in conflict with himself, because he is aware that he is not a stupid man, but the society does not always take him such as he really is. Grant was a double-minded.

Firstly Grant was sure that he is not going to assist the guilty man, because the last is beyond the hope. Grant was afraid to failure. He makes no doubt that Jefferson will die. Three persons - white jury, a white judge and a white lawyer wanted his death. Grant also perceives that there are a lot of dishonest white people in the country, and unhappy guilty man cannot do something to help himself. Jefferson is a powerless against this awful system. And Grant is not going to be a part of this system, he prefers to stay away and that’s why does not want to assist the guilty. But at last he changed his mind and was going to help poor Jefferson.  Grant was sure, that Jefferson is not an ordinary man, he is somebody more than an oppressed black and he can be useful for the society. This belief he decides to convey to Jefferson. And he did it. He changed Jefferson’s life and he proved Jefferson that he is a special and the kind man. Working with Jefferson, Grant was saving himself.

This book it is not the only case, when black people suffered in the “white society”. Many books in the  world literature describe this problem.

The story ends with Jefferson’s death. This story is not easy for understanding, but it is worth reading, because shows us real problems in a real society.