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In the book, A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines it states, “I want you to show them the difference between what they think you are and what you can be.” This quote talks about how other people’s opinions should not affect who you are and by being bold you can show others your true self. In this essay, I will be discussing Jefferson’s choice to be a man at the end of the book and stand up and walk to his death.
In A Lesson Before Dying, Ernest J. Gaines uses the character’s choices to shape Jefferson into a man.
To start off, in the novel A Lesson Before Dying, Jefferson has a choice to either act like a man or a hog. In one situation Jefferson chooses to act like a hog.
When Grant brought Jefferson food during one of his visits Jefferson reacted by saying, “I’m gonna show you how an old hog eat.
” (Gaines 58) Proceeding this, Jefferson knelt down put his head in the bag of food, and started eating without his hands. This situation shows us how much Jefferson took the defender’s words to heart and how little he values himself. Jefferson’s actions in this situation gave Grant a greater ambition to help Jefferson. Grant felt like it was his duty now to make Jefferson a man. Following that, later on in the novel, Jefferson states in his journal, “ If I ain’t nothing but a hog, how come they don’t knock me in the head like a hog. Starb me like a hog? Man walk on two foot; hogs on four hoofs.” (Gaines 17) At this point in the story, Jefferson is questioning the label he was given. In this situation, he is finally deciding to think of himself as a man. Now that Jefferson has finally chosen to be a man Grant knows that he has done his work. Grant doesn’t realize it, but this whole situation has affected him more than he thinks. When Jefferson walks to his death like a man this symbolically proves that he has overcome the racism in his life. Overall, by walking to his death, Jefferson proved to himself that he wasn’t a hog, he was a man.
To relate to the previous paragraph, I have made many choices in my life regarding a choice between acting in two ways. I would like to talk about one specific event that happened when I was 13. In this situation, I had the choice to be an irresponsible student or an honest responsible student. It all started one Monday morning of my eighth-grade year. Every Monday morning our class would get these slips of paper called ADDs. ADDs were practically sheets of paper with a bunch of math problems on them. Let me tell you these ADDs were not fun. That Monday morning some kids decided that they were done struggling to find the answers themselves so they decided to cheat. Once the teacher left the classroom one student pulled out their phone and started taking pictures of the teacher’s answer book. The student then proceeded to share these answers with others. The temptation for these answers was so tantalizing, but I decided to pull through and not take the answers from these people. Instead, I got up and moved further away from them to get away from the trouble. At that point, I chose to be an honest responsible student. The students were later caught cheating and were not trusted by teachers and other students. My choice of not cheating left me to be trusted by my teachers and fellow classmates. Overall, this situation has educated me in many ways. It has taught me to first of all not cheat because it only hurts you and to be honest in situations like this because honesty can only help you out not hurt you. This choice relates to Jefferson’s choice because we both had to choose between acting in two ways. It seems that we both chose the choice with the best possible outcome. To close, my actions helped me shape who I am just like Jefferson’s choices helped shape him into who he was.
All in all, one decision can change the world. Our choices can impact someone on a large scale or a small scale. From choosing what to eat for breakfast to choosing where to go to college, every decision impacts our lives. In this novel Jefferson had to make a big choice, his choice was to either be a man by the end of his life or be a hog. Jefferson chose to be a man and this choice impacted so many people. On the other hand, many people impacted his choice as well. Some of the characters in the novel had to make choices that would later affect Jefferson’s choices. In this situation, the characters had to sacrifice certain things in their own lives to help Jefferson. This shows us how we should be acting towards others. By not being selfish and helping others out we can greatly impact their lives and our lives as well. Even though a decision may not be the easiest, it may just be what is best for you and for others.
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