A lesson before dying


The lady that appears after the first 100 pages of the book turns out to be Vivian, Grant’s secret lover. Grant and Vivian take a walk and after their walk they visit Grant’s aunt, aunt Emma. Aunt Emma and her friends are very fond of Vivian and they give her many compliments. Aunt Emma, and the reverend go to visit Jefferson and they find that Grant’s previous account of Jefferson’s recovery was lie; Jefferson still eats and behaves like a “hog”. Aunt Emma and the reverend confront Grant regarding his faulty account of Jefferson’s recovery. Once again, Grant visits Jefferson and tries to convince him that he is not a hog and he is a man. After a couple more visits from the ladies and Grant, the chapter ends off with the whole town watching a Christmas play on the birth of Jesus. After the play, Grant is tired of watching the same play and seeing the same people dressed in the same kinds of clothing year after year.

The hermeneutic view means the dominant interpretation to a text. In “A Lesson Before Dying,” they end off the chapter with a Christmas play about the birth of Jesus. This is significant because Christmas to Christian’s is a symbol of birth. This could mean that there might be new hope for Jefferson. This is because Jefferson is currently on death row. Christmas does not symbolize death, but symbolizes birth. This could mean that Jefferson could get a new chance in life or at least will not be executed in the near future. Another important point is that everyone knew that this play is dedicated to Jefferson/. This could mean that the whole community is praying for Jefferson. The reverend started to pray and asked God to watch over everyone including the ones in jail who were innocent or guilty. At the end of this, Grant says, “Vivian said things were changing. But where were they changing?” This is an important quote because Vivian might be implying that racism is beginning to stop, but Grant cannot see these changes. He only sees racism as a part of life.

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According to the political view, there is a hierarchical structure underneath the construction of race.When Grant has a talk with his teacher, his teacher said, “I am superior to you. I am superior to any man blacker than me.” His teacher is possibly implying that lighter skin color is racially superior in society. Grant’s teacher is of a lighter skin color (being Creole) therefore, his teacher is also reinforcing his own racial superiority over Grant. Another point is when he calls Grant a nigger. “He’ll make you the nigger you were born to be.” I think that the usage of “he’ll” is referring to “the white society” and how whites have the power to produce labels such as “nigger”. This negative label has the power of determining and limiting the fate of a black person because; everyone will begin to treat blacks differently after associating them with being “niggers”. If society believes in the negative label of “nigger” it will decrease a black person’s opportunity to receive education, employment, etc., therefore perpetuating their lack of status within society.

Grant’s teacher also said that to survive in a white man’s world, you basically have to adapt in their culture and do everything a white man does. Grant’s response is “My only choice is to run, then?” This means that the only thing to do is to runaway from society’s label. However, Grant’s teacher predicts that Grant “won’t run”, he says this because, he realizes that it is easier to assimilate into the “white” culture rather trying to rebel.

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