Human Strength In A Lesson Before Dying

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Jefferson acts out of character by proclaiming he is a hog. Just as hogs eat from a pen, Jefferson performs a disgrace act in front of Grant. This dehumanizing action shows how he took the words of the defendant to heart. Continuous throughout the novel, the outside society does not matter to Jefferson. Later, he realizes he needs someone in his corner to hear about his experience. In-depth characterization, unique styles, and universal thematic ideas combine a modern classic, A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest Gaines.

Gaines uses dynamic characters in his modern classic novel. A dynamic character significantly changes in the novel’s course. For example, in the beginning, Jefferson is a dynamic character because he has a revolution while being in prison. Entering the jail he refuses to communicate with some family members and sees life not as being normal. Later in the novel, Jefferson goes from being sensitive to a civilized human being. He courageously accepts he is going to die and walks to the chair like a man. Similarly, Grant is considered a dynamic character by trying to figure out how to make others happy. The more time Grant spends with Jefferson, the bigger impact Jefferson put on Grant’s life. He goes from uppity to humble realizing he has to listen and become a better person. Lastly, Paul is another dynamic character who characterizes and inspires not to be like the rest of the white community. Paul goes from being a white authority figure to a man who sees no color. Demonstrating not to be like the rest of the deputies, Paul treats Grant and Jefferson with the uttermost respect. In contrast to dynamic characters, Gaines also includes in the crafting of his classic static characters. In particular, Reverend Ambrose is a well-chosen character as being static who begins as stubborn and ends just as persistent. Ambrose believes the more educated you are, not less ignorant then you must improve your soul. The end of the novel, he characterizes himself as a liar, he gave people encouraging words to ease their pain or give them a hypothetical truth. Reverend Ambrose continues to believe in God and Heaven, showing his strength. To list, Vivan is a well-rounded character in the novel also. She begins humble and stays supportive behind Grant, even though tribulations rose from visiting Jefferson. Throughout the novel, Grant and Vivian’s love is affectionate. Even when Tante Lou inquires her skin tone because she is considered to be higher, Vivan never doubts or questions her ability to be everything that Grant wants her to be. When Grant felt like giving up on visiting Jefferson, Vivian calms Grant frustrations with her sensibility and an open heart. In addition to dynamic and static characters, Gaines’ inclusion of minor characters might be significant but not as fleshed out as major characters. For instance, Brother and Bear are the catalysts of Gaines’ novel a minor. They decide to stop by Mr.Grope’s store and buy some wine. After being declined, Mr.Grope withdraws his gun; two black men and a white grocery owner are dead on the floor. Brother and Bear share a common purpose in the novel like Jefferson; both can be considered a co-conspirator in a robbery. For Jefferson, he steals money from the cash drawer after the shoot out and is caught by some white men while entering the store. At the same time, Gaines uses Henri Pichot as a minor character. Pichot is a bigoted white man who settled with Sheriff Guidry to allow Miss Emma and Grant to visit Jefferson. As a result, Gaines’ characterization of describing his eyes grey because he is partially biased. Pichot was cruel to Jefferson at the near end of Jefferson’s execution day. He offered him a penknife to see if Jefferson would fold under the influence of temptation and not make it to the chair on execution day. To conquer the temptation was a victory over Pichot’s biases ways.

In addition, to in-depth characterization, Gaines’ uses such as universal ideas in his timeless modern classic. Specifically, in the novel, the demonstration of prejudice is shown. Reverend Ambrose is considered to be prejudice toward higher educated men. The reverend importance to the novel is he is a living, breathing representative of the religion. Likewise, Grant visits Henri Pichot and meets with him about visiting Jefferson. As a perfect example, prejudice is displayed by Grant has to enter the house from the back and belongs to society. That racism is not only something thrust upon the black community, but it also tracks onto its victims. Next, Grant experiences prejudice when he goes to deliver food to Jefferson. The sheriff searches the bags of food as if Grant is a criminal. Overall, Gaines’ seems to be suggesting that the universal idea of prejudices is race makes anyone believe they are inferior.

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Just as, prejudice is an in-depth characterization of Gaines’ use of such as universal ideas in his timeless modern classic. Another idea is love demonstrated by Grant and Vivian. The couple has an equal force in attitude change. Grant opens up to Vivian, while he withdraws from Miss Emma and Tante Lou. Similarly, Jefferson and Miss Emma share a tough love-like relationship. She refuses to cradle him still and owns up to he is a man. She has raised him to the extent that she knows. Lastly, Grant and Jefferson share love and motivation from other people. Without women like Tante Lou and Miss Emma, Grant would never go visit Jefferson and it would not help Grant become the man later on in the novel. Overall, Gaines in-depth characterization about love seems to be suggesting that the real is forced to stay.

Another classic element is Gaines’ unique style is symbolism. Firstly, food plays a role in Gaines’ novel. Meaningful interactions between characters happen in the kitchen and around the table. Southern cooked meals prepared for Jefferson, when Miss Emma cooked remind African-Americans of Sunday dinner after church. In comparison, in the church where Grant teaches; The Last Supper image symbolizes the idea of communion. Gaines portrays Jefferson as a Christ-like figure who sacrifices his life. Just as food symbolizes in the novel also so does the butterfly passage. On the evening of Jefferson’s execution, Grant is meditating and the arrival of a butterfly appears before him. The butterfly represents a transformation for Jefferson into a man also; Grant’s transformation from a cynic to a hopeful person. Secondly, the figurative language governs Gaines’ narration. Gaines’ incorporation of similes such as Miss Emma and Tante Lou like boulders. This simile shows the toughness of these women and the fact they stand their grounds. Same as, Miss Emma and Tante Lou, Jefferson is compared to a hog. He eats on his knees like a hog and is humiliated to be compared to one. Thirdly, Grant’s position is the narrator of the novel. From a first-person point of view, he governs a straightforward novel. Grant knows the situation he is in, which in turn can also govern the tone of his narrative. His knowledge about everybody else gives the reader an insider’s perspective of it. The only time the narration overturns in the novel is chapter twenty-nine made up entirely of Jefferson’s diary.

Ernest Gaines’ modern classic of thematic ideas also included in-depth characterization and unique styles. Jefferson mimicking a hog displays him being wrongfully convicted and Later in the novel, Jefferson improved himself and acts nobly on behalf of an oppressed community. 

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Human Strength In A Lesson Before Dying. (2021, July 15). WritingBros. Retrieved July 3, 2022, from https://writingbros.com/essay-examples/human-strength-in-a-lesson-before-dying/
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Human Strength In A Lesson Before Dying. [online]. Available at: <https://writingbros.com/essay-examples/human-strength-in-a-lesson-before-dying/> [Accessed 3 Jul. 2022].
Human Strength In A Lesson Before Dying [Internet]. WritingBros. 2021 Jul 15 [cited 2022 Jul 3]. Available from: https://writingbros.com/essay-examples/human-strength-in-a-lesson-before-dying/
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