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Earnest J. Gaines' A Lesson Before Dying Essay

Project id 1008883
Subject area Arts Entertainment
Document type Essay
Words 1138
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Earnest J. Gaines' A Lesson Before Dying A Lesson Before Dying, by Ernest J. Gaines is set in a plantation community in rural Louisiana. Both main characters in the publication, Grant and Jefferson, are engaged in a struggle to achieve self-respect in society, that allots them not one. The story occurs in the end of the 1940s, a time when Louisiana and many other southern countries were practicing segregation. The next college edition of the American Heritage Dictionary defines segregation as, "The policy and practice of imposing the social separation of races, as in colleges, housing, and business" (1111). Mr. Gaines employs a variety of settings to illustrate this cruel practice invades every aspect of Grant and Jefferson's lives; from faith and legal procedure to love. In the court, the defense attorney insinuates that Jefferson is under a man because of his physical traits and apparent absence of intelligence. He asks the jury, "would you find a guy sitting here? Have a look at the form of the skull, this face as flat as the palm of the handdo you see a modicum of intelligence?" (7). He degrades Jefferson by referring to him as a thing, "Everything you see here is a thing that acts on control", and eventually as a creature, "I'd just as soon put a hog in the electric chair as this." (7-8). Evidently, discrimination and stereotyping depending on the level of skin pigmentation exhibited existed as a hierarchy with the lightest skin pigmentation at the top along with the darkest at the floor, together with the every individual cluster discriminating from the one beneath them. Grant's former schoolmaster, Mathew Antoine, could have been a male role model for him. However, professor Antoine was sour, he loathed himself.

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