Wednesday, May 29, 2019
The Character of Jefferson in A Lesson Before Dying :: A Lesson Before Dying, Ernest J. Gaines
Jefferson, a black man condemned to die by the electric chair in the novel, A Lesson forrader Dying, by Ernest J. Gaines, is perhaps the fondest character in African-American literature. Jefferson is a courageous young black man that a jury of all white custody convicts of a murder he has not committed yet he however does not let this defeat destroy his personal character. Ernest Gaines portrays Jefferson this way to instance the fundamental belief that mankinds defeats do not necessarily lead to his destruction. The author uses such actions as Jefferson still enjoying away(p) comforts, showing kindness towards others, and trying to better himself before dying. These behaviors clearly show that although society may cast Jefferson out as a black murderer, he can still triumph somewhat knowing that he retains the qualities of a good human being.The first trait Jefferson demonstrates after his incarceration is the fact that he still enjoys the outside comforts of small thi ngs such as a radio and journal. The fact that Jefferson still wants these things shows his imprisonment does not defeat him. In one of his last diary entries, Jefferson says , shef guiry ax me what I want for my super an I tol him I want nanan to cook me som okra an rice an som pok chop an a conbred an som claba (232). Jefferson still enjoys his aunts cooking, an outside pleasure from prison. The fact that he can still take pleasure from these small outside things clearly demonstrates that Jefferson enjoys a small victory all over the world that has locked him away.The second characteristic that shows society does not defeat Jefferson is Jeffersons remaining strong compassion for everyone around him. This shows that through defeat, Jefferson remains a strong person by not holding any grudges against his incarcerators. A selection from his diary reads, This was the firs time I cry when they lok that door bahind me the very firs timeI was cryin cause of the bok an the marble he giv me and cause o the people that com to see me (231). Jefferson displays tenderness, which is an obvious sign that Jefferson has not let his imprisonment destroy him.The final pass judgment Gaines uses in A Lesson Before Dying to show Jeffersons lack of destruction is his trying to better himself before dying. Jefferson does this by repeatedly seeing return Wiggins and Reverend Ambrose in prison before his execution.