Responsibility In Ernest Gaines A Lesson Before Dying

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Everyone has a responsibility in this world. No matter the weight of the task, responsibilities hold a big burden on people's lives. Responsibilities to families and ourselves are able to control certain emotions. This is perceived by the reader in Ernest Gaines in the novel, A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest Gaines. He tells the story of Grant, an educated black man in Louisiana who is told that he needs to help an uneducated black man Jefferson, who was wrongly accused of white man's murder. Miss Emma trusts Grant with her most prized possession and prove to Jefferson he can do something for Miss Emma before he passes away. Also Grant is a school teacher who feels a commitment to the children to make them strong men and women despite their…show more content…
Grant feels that he succeeds in the task he finally takes on, but also understands that the denial in the first place affects his outcome. One does not simply give up on a commitment even though it may make time. Grant finally accepts that he is capable of completing his responsibility to himself and his community. Eventually Grant realizes that he is finally getting to Jefferson and making him a “man”. After all the work Grant puts into Jefferson the day of the execution comes and Grant feels somewhat accomplished. As Grant sits realizing it is all over he says, “It had a butterfly, a yellow butterfly with dark specks like ink dots on it’s wings, not lit there… Yes I told myself. It is finally over” (252). Gaines uses symbolism of a butterfly to signify Jefferson’s death. This symbolism also relates to the idea of a completion of a responsibility. Grant completes his task by taking what he had of Jefferson and turning that into a man. He finally figures out what Miss Emma meant by turning him into a man, but here lies where the denial affects Grants completion. Grants feels and understands once again the effects of denying a responsibility. If in the first place Grant would have acept what was asked of him, none of this feeling of lack of accomplishment would be present. Grant realizes his commitment as a teacher and the reason he cannot give up he says, “ They see me- and I, who grew up on the same plantation, can teach reading, writing, and arithmetic. I can give them something that neither a husband, a father, nor a grandfather ever did, so they want to hold on as long as they can” (167). Grant realizes that he is all this town has to hold onto. Grant is their inspiration, he may not like were he is in his life but this is his responsibility. At first Grant just wants to leave, but he finally understands why he cannot do that. Grant has

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