Throughout Ernest J. Gaines novel, A Lesson Before Dying, Jefferson, a confused, angered, young black man, changes from believing he was just a "hog" to believing he was a man. An external motivation of Jefferson's opinion of himself comes from an atto ey in court who states that Jefferson is just a hog. Jefferson refers to himself as a hog numerous times through conversations with Grant Wiggins, a school teacher sent to raise Jefferson's confidence. Also he was sent to help Jefferson find or believ in God. At first, Jefferson eats the food his Nannan brings him on his knees because "That's how a old hog eat." (83). Early on Jefferson showed refusal to accept any sort of help or care from people who loved him. "Old hog don't care what people say (83), is a prime example of his attitude towards others early on.
As the story progresses Jefferson begins to gain confidence as he comes understand himself as a man.
When Jefferson receives a gift from one of the kids in the quarter, he begins to realize that there are people who do care about him. Jefferson is a r resentation of everyone in the quarter and see's that he must disprove he is a hog and stand tall like a man before his death. Paul, a deputy in the execution room, after the execution, says that Jefferson "was the bravest man in that room today" (256) Jefferson's new self-confidence and love is seen when he stated his last word's "Tell Nannan I walked." (254). In conclusion, Jefferson, at death, believed in himself as a man and proved he was not hog.