A Lesson before Dying A Lesson before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines is about the ways in which people insist on declaring the value of their lives in a time and place in which those lives count for nothing. It is about the ways in which the imprisoned may find freedom even in the moment of their death. “I sat on a chair inside the pulpit, eating fried chicken and bread. The people were still laughing and talking. Just outside the pulpit was the little pine Christmas tree with its green and red stripes of crepe paper for light, its bits of lint cotton for snow, and the narrow strings of tinsel for icicles.
And there was the lone gift against the tub of dirt” (page 151). This quote seems like Grant is just describing a tree, but I took it to mean more than that. I see it as a symbolic look on his community. The tree is nothing spectacular. Nothing beautiful, or extravagant, yet to his students, it was the best tree ever. That’s like his community. It is made up of the basics. Nobody is rich, nor are they the best looking. But to the people who make up the community, it is the best thing ever.
Now the present I took to mean one of two things. Either the gift represents Grant, and his gift he can give to the community, knowledge and pride. Or it can represent Jefferson, meaning he is the lone diamond in the rough. The poor innocent man who was at the wrong place at the wrong time is now trapped in jail. He was just with the wrong people, in the wrong place. Being a presented among a pile of dirt, means he stand out as something good and wanted. I truly enjoyed reading the novel A Lesson before Dying.
I loved how this book pretty much teaches you a lesson by trying not to be at the wrong place at the wrong time or hanging out with the wrong kind of people. The quote below is from the book and it was one of my favorites. “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. ” At this point Grant realizes that Jefferson really did learn a ‘lesson before dying. ’ When he says “It is finally over,” he is not only referring to Jefferson’s life, but also that his cowardly nature is “finally over. ” He has once and for all taken a stand for what he believes in. This insures that he, too, has benefited from this entire experience. Jefferson’s life was sacrificed in order for the white people in the community to gain a better understanding of the value of the black members of society.