A lesson before dying - dissertation : is jefferson a christian figure ?
Ernest J. Gaines is an African-American author, who was born during Segregation in America. In 1993, he published A Lesson before dying, a novel which he deals with the hardships of life during this period. Through the life of Jefferson, we will try to plea for equality between the races. He tells the story of a Black man wrongly accused for a crime he didn’t commit and who will have to die for the sake of his community.
In this case, it’s debatable whether the author wanted to show Jefferson as a Christian figure, as the Savior of Black community?
To answer this question, we will on the one hand study the other characters of the novel, which help Jefferson to be a Christian figure, and on the other one, we will analyse the elements which show that Jefferson is the Messiah of the Black community.
In this novel, given that we are in a context of a man wrongly accused, we can observe that the other characters have a big influence on Jefferson.
First, we can study the main character who is also the narrator: Grant. The first chapters highlight the personality and the role of this man. He is an important person in the Black community because he is the teacher; he educates, so as to make the difference between Black and White. At the beginning of the novel, he is very pessimistic, he is resigned : Jefferson is going to die because he is a Black man condemned by White jurors. Nevertheless, he plays an important role for Jefferson: he must educate him before dying, to make Jefferson aware of the fact that he is a man and not a “hog”: (Page 83) “You’re not a hog,” I said. “You’re a man.” It shows that Jefferson needs Grant to know that he is a man. He’s supposed to be Jefferson’s preceptor, but it looks like he doesn’t care. So, we can see that Jefferson is not really a Christian figure; he needs somebody to become it whereas Jesus was the Savior by his choice, alone. Moreover, we can observe that Grant isn’t very believer even if he read verses from