Choices In A Lesson Before Dying

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“Sometimes it’s the smallest decisions that can change your life forever,” said Keri Russell. In the book A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J Gaines, many of the characters in this book make or are affected by the choices others or themselves make, many involving the young black man, Jefferson, and our main character, Grant Wiggins. Grant makes so many choices throughout the book that affects not only him, but his family, friends, and other people that he doesn’t even really know. Some of the choices are really big, while others, not so much. In the book A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J Gaines, Grant Wiggins chose to fight two mulatto bricklayers at the Rainbow Club after overhearing them talking about Jefferson which is important because it revealed how much he cares about Jefferson and it affected some of his friends and family.

First off, Grant made a lot of big and small choices in this book that affects everyone around him, ranging from when he chose to help Jefferson and visit him in jail to him choosing not to go to the execution. Going off of this, Grant Wiggins chose to fight two mulatto bricklayers at the Rainbow Club after overhearing them talking about Jefferson. This choice was important because it showed all his friends and loved ones how he felt about the topic and Jefferson himself. Grant always acts like he doesn’t care about Jefferson necessarily, and acts like the only reason he visits Jefferson in jail because of Miss Emma, Jefferson’s nannan. In reality, he actually started to care about Jefferson and what was going to happen to him.

After the fight at the bar, Grant was trying to explain himself to Vivian when she said, “You could have walked out of there,” (Gaines 205) to which he replied with, “Can Jefferson walk out of where he is?” (Gaines 205). Everyone, even Vivian believed that Grant didn’t care much for Jefferson, but after this fight and the conversation he has with Vivian, it proves that he cares more than him or anyone else thinks he does. Another example would be later in the conversation with Vivian, he states, “It went well today, honey …He and I walked around the room, while I talked to him. Then we ate. HIs nannan was proud…..Aren’t you proud?” (Gaines 207). This shows that early today when Grant visits Jefferson and talked to him about what a hero is, Jefferson made Miss Emma and Grant very proud. Him being proud shows he cares about Jefferson and is happy that Jefferson is making progress. Even though Grant angered his family and friends when he fought with the men at the club, he proved to us readers and the characters in the book that he truly does care for Jefferson, even if he has a difficult time showing it. To start this off, I’m sure all of us have made many choices in our lives that led to where we are now and made us who were are today.

These choices can be really good or really bad or in between, but what matters is that everyone makes choices. There is one choice that sticks out in my mind and I’d say it’s a good one. My friends and I are very mood and stubborn and constantly get in fights and make up, but I remember one particular time last year that comes to mind. I had recently been cheated on and dumped by my boyfriend (we were still friends at this point though and we still are today), and one of my best friends chose to give his snap and number to a friend of mine who moved and she chose not to tell me, so I found out from him about this. I was so mad and I confronted her immediately and we got into a huge fight that lasted all night. We then chose to ignore each other for two whole days, in which was very hard since we had a lot of classes together. Even though I was so mad at her for that, I really really missed her and I hated fighting with her over a boy of all things. Little did I know, she felt the same. Well on the night of the second day, she randomly texted me asking if we can call and I asked why. She explained to me that her and one of our now ex best friends (who doesn’t go to our school anymore) had been talking behind her back and just blocked her on everything and she needed to talk. Even though I was extremely mad at her for what had happened earlier that week, I chose to be there for her and let her rant, and gave her advice.

We even talked out what happened between us and she said she shouldn’t have done that and I apologized for not being more rational about the whole thing. We worked things out and were perfectly fine the next day and were back to being best friends again. This choice was important because it showed that I cared more about her and her feelings then I did about my own feelings and about what happened. This is similar to Grant’s feelings; he chose to fight because he wanted to protect Jefferson and his reputation rather then Grant’s own reputation, and it showed how much he cared about Jefferson while doing so. I chose to let my friends call me and rant about what happened, rather than being an awful friend and leaving her to deal with it by herself. Just like how Grant chose to fight for Jefferson instead of listening to what the men were saying and not doing or saying anything about it. Also, instead of ignoring her texts completely or going behind her back and telling everyone what happened between her and the other girl, I helped her.

Grant chose not to ignore what the men were saying and to stand up for Jefferson. Both of us did the right thing, even though it’s easier to tell that my choice was right compared to Grant’s choice. Either way, we both showed how much more we care for our friends then for ourselves, our pride, and our reputations. Grant Wiggins chose to fight two mulatto bricklayers at the Rainbow Club after overhearing them talking about Jefferson, in the book A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J Gaines.

This is important because it revealed how much he cares about Jefferson and it affected his friends, family, and loved ones. The choice I made and the choice Jefferson made both showed how much we care about our friends and loved ones more than ourselves, our reputations, and pride. It is important to make connections between our lives and the novels we read because it makes it easier for us to understand and relate to the book. If we make similar choices to the characters in our books, then we can relate to them and know how they felt when they made this choice; we can understand what they were thinking. In conclusion, we all make choices that can be very similar.

Yes we are all unique in our own ways, but we often make similar choices when we are presented with a situation. The choice not be exactly the same, but the fact that the choice was made could be for the exact same reason that someone chose to say or do something. All in all, our choices affect who we are as a person and what people think of us, and they also reveal what we do and don’t care about. Always make the right choice, even if it’s not the choice others would make.

Works Cited

  1. Gaines, Ernest J. A Lesson Before Dying. Knopf, 1993.

Cite this paper

Choices In A Lesson Before Dying. (2020, Sep 17). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/choices-in-a-lesson-before-dying/



What are some themes in A Lesson Before Dying?
Some themes in A Lesson Before Dying include the effects of racism and injustice on individuals and communities, the importance of education and dignity in the face of oppression, and the power of human connection and empathy to transcend societal divisions.
What does the notebook symbolize in A Lesson Before Dying?
The notebook is a symbol of hope. It represents the possibility of a future for Jefferson, a future in which he can be educated and have a chance at a better life.
What is the most important lesson in A Lesson Before Dying?
The most important lesson in A Lesson Before Dying is that every person has value and is worth fighting for.
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