A Lesson Before Dying

Belief and Teachings 12th Grade

Faith has always played a role in human society. Some put their faith in a divine being, while others put their faith in more physical things. In the historical fiction novel A Lesson Before Dying, by Ernest J. Gaines, a reader can see the motivation that people gain from faith, whether it be their own faith or the faith of others. This novel takes place the town of Bayonne, Louisiana during the 1940s. It depicts the struggle that two black men face in their lives, one having been wrongly accused of murder and the other trying to accept the state of his community. Jefferson was called a hog by his defense attorney and sentenced to death after being falsely accused. Throughout the book, Grant Wiggins, a schoolteacher, tries to help Jefferson learn how to act and die like a man. With the narration focusing on Grant, the reader sees how Grant struggles to live in a community where everyone he loves is oppressed. However, both Grant and Jefferson learn what it means to be a man in their struggles. Faith gives people the strength to accomplish anything is the ever-present theme in Ernest Gaines’s novel, A Lesson Before Dying.

Symbols are scattered everywhere throughout A Lesson Before Dying. When Jefferson is in jail, he does not...

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