Graham Brown once said, “Life is about choices. Some we regret, some we’re proud of. Some will haunt us forever. The message: we are what we choose to be.” In the book A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest Gaines many characters demonstrate choices like these. This book highlights the sheer amount of racism in this time period and how it impacted everyone’s lives.
One of the books characters, Jefferson makes a choice that impacts both his life and those around him. Throughout A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest Gaines, Jefferson makes the choice to go into his execution with his head held high, he demonstrates the choices of perseverance, positivity, and courage. At some point in everyone’s life, I believe that they have made a choice similar to this one. Everyone has to choose to be positive and have courage at some point in their lives.
Jefferson progressed a lot throughout the novel. He started out doubting himself and his ability to be a “man.” However, with the help of Grant, he discovered that even if he had to die, he could do it with courage. His decision to have bravery and positivity inspired many people in his life. He really impacted Paul, his prison guard, who developed a personal relationship with Jefferson.
He also helped Grant to realize where his religious beliefs . Jefferson helped teach the readers that, no matter how dire the situation is there is always a way to persevere and face the world with bravery,”I’m go’n do my best Mr. Wiggins. That’s all I can promise. My best.”(Gaines, 225). This shows how, despite being terrified of the execution, Jefferson wants to keep his head held high.
He showed perseverance in wanting to please Jefferson and Miss Emma even in his last few days. In addition, he is determined to do his best, despite being taught that he is the equivalent to a hog. Likewise, Jefferson also displays positivity, “good by mr wigin tell them im strong tell them im a man good by mr wigin im gon ax paul if he can bring you this.”(Gaines, 234).
This shows that, despite being a day away from death, Jefferson is still very hopeful to leave a good impression on those he is leaving behind. He demonstrates positivity by trusting in Grant to spread the word about him, “When Vincent asked him if he had any last words, he looked up at the preacher and said, ‘Tell Nannan I walked.’ And straight he walked, Grant Wiggins. Straight he walked. I’m a witness. Straight he walked.”(Gaines, 254). This showcases the courage that Jefferson had. Instead of being afraid or begging for life, all he asked for was to tell his godmother that he was brave.
As I mentioned before, everyone has made the decision to persevere, be positive, or brave. Everyone has, at some point in their lives, hit their all time low. In those moments when it feels as if all hope is lost, it is nearly vital to demonstrate these qualities. There have been a few times that I can recall in my own life where I have needed to use these qualities. There is even an example of this recently.
To start out with, I have been dealing with various medical issues for the better part of this year. It started out mildly scary, however, I persevered and was determined to find the cause. As time went on, I eventually was diagnosed with a chronic illness called gastroparesis. Even though this was a bit of a traumatic diagnosis, I found the courage to continue on and find a solution. The months that followed were long and hard, many times it was hard to keep a positive outlook. This was the case because no matter what the doctor tried, nothing worked. Eventually I came across a solution that worked, and although it was scary, I am hopeful that it is worth it.
This was a large change for me, as expected. In spite of it all, I have managed to keep positive. Despite the many hospital and doctor visits, I have kept hope. This example relates to Jeffersons choice because, like Jefferson, I had come to a point where I did not even know if continuing to pursue my goal was worth it.
In addition, like Jefferson, I was surrounded by positivity that inspired me to continue and better myself in the process. Moreover, our choices were also very different. I was never faced with death, I knew that I had a lot of time to figure everything out. However, Jefferson was not given the option of time. He was thrown into an unexpected circumstance where he could either come out better or worse, but the end had the same outcome.
To conclude, throughout A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest Gaines, Jefferson makes the choice to go into his execution with his head held high, he demonstrates the choices of perseverance, positivity, and courage. Everyone, no matter who, has been given the opportunity to make the choice to choose these qualities.
Choices like these are important for both the person making them and everyone close to them. If the person in question makes the choice to better themselves, despite the circumstances, they have the chance to come out on top; however that may look like. Likewise, it helps everyone else involved keep hope as well, it is much easier for everyone involved when positivity remains prominent. No matter what circumstances anyone is under, the choices people make define them. The question is whether the choice is to become a better person despite everything, or let the circumstances consume them.