A Lesson before Dying by Ernest Gaines book report
A Lesson before dying is a book by Ernest J.Gaines, the son of a sharecropper in the southern part of the United States of America. A Lesson before Dying has a lot to do with what Ernest experienced as a young man and deep into his adulthood as an African American. All that occurs in the book mirrors what was going on around him in that there was great tension based on racial discrimination. African Americans were subjected to great suffering by a society that refused to acknowledge not only there right to be in the United States, but also the right to call themselves humans.
The book centers on two men, who are arguably the protagonists. These are Jefferson and Grant Wiggins. Grant Wiggins has managed to go to school and he is a school teacher. The black community around him looks up to him for guidance on a number of areas. Jefferson is the victim of false murder accusation after he witnesses the shooting of three people, two black and one white shop keeper. He is arrested for a crime he has not committed and sentenced to death through the electric chair. The racism that is so common in society comes out when the white lawyer defending Jefferson describes him as a hog. This means he is less human and therefore he should not be killed.
The society is torn apart and even Reverend Ambrose, a man who has gone to bible school is not sure whether he has true faith (Gaines 218).He thinks he lies in funerals and other functions where he talks about the presence of God. Grant, on his part is also not any better. He says he believes in God but is not sure about the soul. He does not believe in the soul (Gaines 214).The lack of faith in God even in people like Reverend Ambrose who should be calling people to God is a testimony of how the racism has eaten away their faith in a redeeming power.
Jim Crow has come with a set of racist rules and these lead to the separation of facilities used by blacks and whites. From schools to hospitals, there is the usage of different facilities for each race. The argument is that they are separate but equal. This kind of racism and discrimination is displayed only in people who seem to be slightly unintelligent in society. The whites who Gaines brings into the novel who are willing to advocate for unity and respect are brilliant and responsible. Paul Bonin and Sam, the sheriff are examples. This is true even today in our society. Racism is mainly witnessed among people who are of low intelligence and this low intelligence levels are the reason for the inability to understand that all humanity is as a result of God and there is no one superior or inferior. The book’s setting in a plantation and the interactions of the characters throughout the racial conflicts give it a very tense touch. The tone is sad due to the helplessness of people like Jefferson. It is a sentimental journey to America’s sad past.