A Lesson Before Dying


in chapter 31

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“Do you know what a myth is, Jefferson?” I asked him. “A myth is an old lie that people believe in. White people believe that they’re better than anyone else on earth - and that’s a myth. The last thing they ever want is to see a black man stand, and think, and show that common humanity that is in us all. It would destroy their myth. They would no longer have justification for having made us slaves and keeping us in the condition we are in. As long as none of us stand they’re safe. They’re safe with me. They’re safe with Reverend Ambrose. I don’t want them to feel safe with you anymore.” (Page 192)

As Jefferson and Grant walk around the day room, out of ear-shot of Miss Emma and Reverend Ambrose, Grant explains what is expected of Jefferson in his last few weeks. He admits himself to be a slave, because he fails to challenge the white discrimination. But Jefferson can do a lot to defy the myth of white supremacy by going to the chair like a man.