A Lesson Before Changing

A Lesson Before Changing

Malik Bell

Mrs. Fillyaw

English 9 5th Pd.

29 May 2009

A Lesson Before Changing

In Ernest Gaines’ A Lesson Before Dying, a lot of changes occur within the characters. Like most novels, change is a way to show growth in the characters’ personality, and A Lesson Before Dying does just that. Readers see most of the changes and character growth in Grant Parker, the main character of the story. After realizing who he and his people were, being more humble, and discovering how he really stereotyped the southern African American, Grant changed his whole perspective on how he sees the country and himself.

In the beginning of his visits with Jefferson, Grant more or less hated Jefferson. However, after realizing Jefferson was a good person at heart and after releasing his bitterness, he became his friend and probably the only person Jefferson felt he could trust. When Miss. Emma and Tante Lou first told Grant that he had to start teaching Jefferson how to be a man, Grant refused. At the time, Grant used to be angry about many things that he could not control. Grant did not want to be in the south, he did not want to teach, and he was just a bitter person. Grant explains to Tante Lou and Miss Emma that, “[he] didn’t put there. I do everything I know how to do to keep people like him from going there. He’s not going to make me feel guilty” (Gaines 57). Several things happen that allows Grant to lighten up as a person and show more respect to people. First, Grant has Vivian in his life and she makes him happy every time he sees her. Secondly, Grant has an epiphany that makes him realize that his people are not his enemy. Over the course of the months Grant visits Jefferson, he starts to see a man that had his whole life taken away from him and starts to show more compassion. At one of the visits, Grant starts to feel sorry for Jefferson when “[they] looked at each other, and [Grant] could see those big reddened eyes that he was not going to scream....

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