Bayonne[ edit ] "Bayonne was a small town of about six thousand. Segregated schools provide another example of racial persecution. The possibility of transcendence Gaines finds in the individual human being may be meant to point to possibilities for the human community as well.
One answer, Gaines implies, may lie in the possibility of transcendence, originating from within the self. He has never expressed his feelings for anyone, or had anyone express their feelings for him. A single bulb hung over the center of the cell, and at the end opposite the door was a barred window, which looked out onto a sycamore tree behind the courthouse.
In his diary entries, the reader also learns that he is far more introspective, articulate, and aware than had been previously suggested. I could see the sunlight on the upper leaves. There was only one main street in Bayonne, and it ran along the St. He was raised by Miss Emma and Mr.
A brief but excellent explication of the novel. He is naive, passive, and easily influenced. Grant is continually challenged with the fact that he is an outsider in his place of work; he does not attend church with the rest of his settlement.
They reached their hands out between the bars and asked for cigarettes or money. Behind my desk was the pulpit and the altar. Their relationship continues to grow and strengthen, especially when Grant gives Jefferson a radio to distract him and then a notebook in which to record his thoughts.
There was no hate in his face—but Lord, there was pain. This was my school. Winning his tentative acquiescence, however, is only part of their task: They would no longer have justification for having made us slaves and keeping us in the condition we are in.
Why, I would as soon put a hog in the electric chair as this. The strategy fails, but its effects continue to be felt, not by the jurors but by Jefferson and those who care about him. Who am I, Grant wants to know, to say what a man is, or how a man should die?
A white jury quickly found Jefferson guilty and he was sentenced to death. Grant is a disillusioned product of the black church. Washington, the newly freed slaves did three things: I wanted to throw my arms around him and hug him. What, then, can he hope to do for Jefferson?
At one point, he even goes down on all fours and, hog-fashion, pushes his snout into the food dish. Also note that he writes in his diary, "Man walks on two feet; pigs on four" after Grant has convinced him that the racial myth stating that his life is worthless is absolutely wrong: He lives in a constant, barely repressed awareness of his impotence.
I teach because it is the only thing that an educated black man can do in the South today. Rather, this novel is imbued with the spiritual generosity and affirmation that readers rightly cherish in the fiction of Ernest J.
Jefferson also opens up to Grant when asked about his last meal, admitting that he wants a gallon of ice cream because he has only ever been allowed tiny amounts. In recognition of his achievements over the course of three decades, Gaines was awarded a MacArthur grant.
His concern is not with whether Jefferson will affirm his humanity but with whether he will find salvation. He wants freedom without responsibility. An innocent bystander named Jefferson is charged with and convicted of the murder. Louisiana State University Press, Instead, he internalizes his rage and vents his pain and frustration on his students.Why should you care about what everyone says in Ernest J.
Gaines's A Lesson Before Dying? Don't worry, we're here to tell you. Miss Emma realizes the impact the attorney’s words have on Jefferson and makes it her business to ensure Jefferson dies like a man, not like an animal.
When Jefferson decides to die with dignity, he shakes off the jeering stereotypes pinned on him by whites. Get everything you need to know about Jefferson in A Lesson Before Dying. Analysis, related quotes, timeline. The character of Jefferson in A Lesson Before Dying from LitCharts | The creators of SparkNotes.
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Terms. A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest Gaines. Upgrade to A + Download this Lit Guide!. A list of important facts about Ernest J. Gaines's A Lesson Before Dying, including setting, climax, protagonists, and antagonists.
SuperSummary, a modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, offers high-quality study guides that feature detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, quotes, and essay topics. This one-page guide includes a plot summary and brief analysis of A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J.
Gaines. Widely celebrated for. Jefferson often compares his own death to Jesus'. They were both executions, and both happened right around Easter time. He decides to take Jesus' silence, his lack of protest, as a model for his own behavior.Download