Ernest J. Gaines wrote the novel, 'A Lesson before Dying' in which he highlighted the problems faced by the blacks during the 1940's in the South. However, the contextual time for the novel covers a whole century into until 1964. He writes about the complete devastation faced by the black farmers as their white counterparts terrorized them. He covers the Jim Crow laws, the Ku Klux Klan and the white racist organizations that made being a black in the south nearly impossible. He pinpoints the reasons for the Great Migration that took place from 1914 to 1930 during which almost two million blacks left the South. The northern cities in the factories seemed to be a dream which never materialized. The second wave of migration from 1910 to 1970 saw more than six million blacks go to the North, the south had no place for people of color.
[...] Gaines does not want to moralize he simply wants to show awareness of the racism that ran rampant in society of the time. Conclusion "Good by mr wigin tell them im strong tell them im a man" [Gaines chap 29]. These are the lines that show the readers that Wiggin's efforts at teaching Jefferson to stand up for himself and have a sense of the self have paid off. These lines are not aimed at putting down the whites rather they are to reveal the lack of awareness the two races had about each other as people. [...]
[...] Within the scope of Lesson Before Dying' the main theme is helping Jefferson redefine himself with an identity that is separate from the image the white man has. Grant has to help Jefferson see himself as a human and in that context emerges the narrative voice of the book. [Auger, Narrative Voice Mikhail Bakhtin  wrote, "The word in language is half someone else's. It becomes 'ones own' only when the speaker populates it with his own intention . The African American voice was garnered from that of the whites the blacks were too ashamed of their language, dialect and culture to create a self- identity. [...]
[...] The helplessness of the African Americans in their times can be seen by the opening words of A Lesson Before Dying, was not there, yet I was there . I did not hear the verdict, because I knew all the time what it would be"[Gaines p Jefferson had gone to a liquor store with Bear and Brother to get some liquor and all of them expected that credit would be extended to them by Grope as they did not have money. [...]
[...] Gaines through his work, Lesson before Dying' asks every person, black and white to reflect on their beliefs and see whether the way they live is the way they want to live or would live if this were there last day on earth. In giving Jefferson self-respect he makes every race acknowledged that racism is not one sided, it's a concept that degrades everyone. References 1. Auger, Philip A Lesson About Manhood Appropriating 'The World' in Ernest Gaines's A Lesson Before Dying, Southern Literary Journal not find year in the faxed pages] 2. [...]
[...] He hates with a vengeance and Gaines uses the concept of crucifixion and salvation to show Jefferson's plight. As Wiggins teaches Jefferson to be proud of himself and prove himself to be a man, he learns to accept that the mistakes made by the whites do not make them all bad. In showing Jefferson to walk to his death like a human who has done no wrong, Wiggins too learns to accept his heritage no matter how demeaning it may seem. [...]
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