A Lesson before Dying
In the novel A Lesson before Dying Ernest J. Gaines addresses a very question concerning status of black people in the society through the example of small town and its society. Ernest J. Gaines addresses a very important problem of racial inequality in the society and its impact on the life of an ordinary person. The paper will prove the fact that racism caused grievances to all citizens in town in spite of their color of skin or persuasions. Theses Portraying blackness as an animal and non-human factor, Gaines proves and tells readers that racism is a social phenomenon only, and some people remain free from prejudices and racial stereotypes valued by whites.
Through relations between children and adults, Gaines portrays that the problem is that American citizens, whites and blacks were not equal in their rights and blacks were not equally treated by majority of white society. “Left of the weighing scales and the derrick was the plantation cemetery, where my ancestors had been buried for the past century. The cemetery had lots of trees in it, pecans and oaks, and it was weedy too” (Gaines 45). The direct victim of racism is Jefferson, who is accused of keeling of three people. For this reason, Jefferson has no chance to be acquitted. While whites members of the society were universally proud of their background, African-Americans was the target of discrimination and outright racism called nigger. Jefferson reconciles: The cause of this problem lies in the fact that blacks were seen as slaves deprived of human rights and were unequal to masters:
Called a non-human creature, Jefferson and his relatives suffer greatly because of false accusations and inequality experienced by a black person. The lawyer comments:” I can’t change what has been handed down by the court. I spoke up before the trial, I can’t say any more” (Gaines 18). Jefferson was not a slave, but a common citizen of the society and community who was unequally treated. In this situation, Jefferson was more a victim of racial discrimination and prejudices of the community than a victim of a trial verdict and accusation. This remark shows that for while community it was difficult to overcome prejudices accepted by society but Miss Emma is strong enough to distinguish good and evil.
At the end of the novel scout understands that Jefferson is real a victim of false social morals and prejudices. “I probably would not have noticed it at all had a butterfly, a yellow butterfly with dark spots like ink dots on its wings, not lit there. What had brought it there? …I watched it fly over the ditch and down into the quarter, I watched it until I could not see it anymore. Yes, I told myself. It is finally over.” (Gaines 157). The trial can be interpreted as a turning point in personal development of black poeple. The speech of Grant Wiggins affects people greatly and forces to rethink their attitude towards people and their values. Grant Wiggins tries to persuade them to be tolerant to other races and stop senseless oppression and discrimination against their neighbors. As a trail comes to an end, readers understands that racial differences affected life of ordinary people and even when slavery had been abolished still had a great impact on social prejudices of people.
In sum, A Lesson before Dying shows that racism and racial prejudices affected all people in spite their color of skin and morals. Racism was a dangerous evil which ruined humans lives and destinies. The changes value of Jefferson is connected with events and circumstances she is faced with. In spite social changes and prejudices, the main black characters are able to overcome negative and false traditions and keep sympathy and dignity. Jefferson is a real fighter who does not subdued by social prejudices or low morals.