"A Lesson Before Dying" by Richard E. Gaines, Jefferson.

Essay by lloydchristmasHigh School, 10th gradeA-, August 2003

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Hundreds of people are executed every year, but what are their last thoughts? In the novel A Lesson Before Dying by Richard E. Gaines, Jefferson, a black man is convicted for a murder he didn't commit and sentenced to death. His lawyer degrades Jefferson by referring to him as a hog and Grant is forced to teach Jefferson that he is not a hog, but a man. In the end, Grant and Jefferson become friends and Jefferson goes to the electric chair with dignity and strength. Grant and Jefferson are able to learn from each other the important lessons of self acceptance, friendship and pride for the African American community.

In the beginning of the story, Grant and Jefferson do not fully accept themselves. Grant has not fully discovered his inner self nor his self worth. He is educated but does not teach for the joy of it, but is obsessed with his own problems.

As the story progresses, Grant begins to realize and accept himself and recognizes that he is important not only to himself but to others. When Grant and Jefferson finally begin to connect, Grant says, "I feel like a person who just found religion (Gaines 123)." He is filled with so much happiness because he is finally reaching Jefferson. What he is also doing is learning to love himself as a teacher and developing confidence to be pleased with who he is. Jefferson too, learned the gift of self respect. When Jefferson befriends Grant, he finds his true self. Jefferson says, "...im strong tell them im a good man (Gaines 234)." Jefferson understands he is not a hog, but in fact a human being. He sees himself as a good man and accepts who he is. This is a crucial lesson that Jefferson and Grant helped...