Choices In A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J Gaines

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You’re in the courthouse listening to what the sentence will be. You zone out only to be brought back in when you hear the defense team calling Jefferson a hog, and begin to listen more intently. “Gentlemen of the jury, be merciful. For God’s sake, be merciful. He is innocent of all charges brought against him. But let us say he was not. Let us for a moment say he was not. What justice would there be to take this life? Justice, gentlemen? Why, I would just as soon put a hog in the electric chair as this.” (1.15-16) How can this be, you think to yourself? In A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J Gaines, Jefferson’s choice to take to heart being called a hog has affected the outcome, goals, and the rest of the story.

Our choices we choose to make will affect the rest of our lives, just like Jeffersons affected him and the rest of the story. Jefferson was a character that lived a normal life in the plantation, just like anyone else. Things rapidly went downhill when he made his first decision to go with Brother and Bear to the drugstore in town. Jefferson knew he didn’t have any money to spend, but decided to go anyways. While there, Brother and Bear weren’t able to pay for their items. A gun fight broke out between Brother, Bear, and Alcee Grope. Within seconds, three of the four people in the drug store were dead. Jefferson was left alone with the three men lying dead on the floor.

Without thinking, Jefferson made the choice to go to the cash register and grab lots of money, along with a few bottles of alcohol. He then started on his way towards the door. The police showed up before Jefferson was able to make it out the door. Jeffersons choices throughout the story following the arrest, affect his mindset as you continue to read A Lesson Before Dying.

We make countless decisions on a daily basis, good and bad. I remember very vividly the choice I made when I was in 5K. Just like any six year old, I loved playing with playdough! It was a Saturday morning. My sister Kiley and I just finished our rice krispies and cheerios for breakfast. As a part of our weekend routine, we rushed down stairs to play with our playdough set. Kiley got the mat out so it wouldn’t get playdough on the carpet, while I pulled out our big bin of supplies. We set up our supplies and started playing. We made a choice to not pick up our playdough mess we had just created, and instead have a dance party. The saying, “It’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt,” couldn’t apply more in this case. As KIley and I continued to have the time of our life dancing and jumping around, I found myself getting closer and closer to the playdough mat. As we kept on dancing, a metal cookie cutter found its way underneath my heel.

That’s when things went downhill fast. The cookie cutter sliced through my heel. My parents made the choice to take me to the ER. There the doctors decided instead of getting stitches that it would be easier for them to glue my heel. I was hysterical! For starters, I hated the doctors office, let alone having to get my heel glued. Since then, Kiley and I make the choice to pick up our mess before doing something else.In conclusion, the choices we make in the next minute, hour, day, year, will affect how we will live the rest of our life. Whether or not they are good or bad choices, the effect they have on our lives. Throughout A Lesson Before Dying, many choices were made. Both good and bad. A majority of the characters made choices that affected Jefferson’s life in positive and negative ways.

Grant made choices that changed his and Vivian’s relationship. Finally, no matter what the choices we make in our life, big or small, the outcome of our lives are always changing. So live life to how you want to live, and be happy with the outcome.


Cite this paper

Choices In A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J Gaines. (2020, Sep 17). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/choices-in-a-lesson-before-dying-by-ernest-j-gaines/



What is the main lesson in A Lesson Before Dying?
The main lesson in A Lesson Before Dying is that everyone has the capacity to change and make a difference, even in the face of overwhelming adversity. It is a powerful reminder that hope and resilience can triumph over even the most difficult circumstances.
What lesson did Grant and Jefferson learn in A Lesson Before Dying?
Grant and Jefferson learned that it is important to stand up for what you believe in, even if it means sacrificing your own safety.
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