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A Lesson Before Dying is a powerful novel written by author Ernest J. Gaines. Which in short this novel shows the reader the racial tensions of the south. Through the story of a young boy named Jefferson who was wrongfully charged with a crime, and now has to pay the price. When it was all just a matter of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. This book written in 1930 shines light on Americas’s true colors in the 19th century.
Although slavery has since been over from this point for around 80 years the tension between whites and blacks was still tearing many small towns apart, and much of the south as they tried vigorously to keep the social standards of separate but equal. All due to the fact that the complexion of one’s skin is a few shades darker when in fact it is not the skin that defines the man or women. Jefferson a boy who knew stealing was wrong, found himself in a situation that when put into the same situation many would have chosen the same path.
However, the action was not of malice nor desire no it was a decision made from and entirely of fear. Jefferson a 21-year-old man still very young and yet to discover the many lessons’ life has to offer. Jefferson who grew up with a poverty-stricken life as said here “Ain’t never had enough ice cream. Never had more than a nickel cone.”(Gaines 170) One nickel in 1940, would be worth 92 cents today.
With this and a general inference of most of the African Americans at the time, this is why we can assume he is forced to take the items he did. When he is given the option to run and have a chance or stay and surely die for a crime he had not committed as he did not have any money to spare and if he was going to try to get away he would need something to get him by for a while.
Like Jefferson, everyone in life is forced to make choices and tough decisions in their life. In which make us the people we are today, I am no different and my choice was similar to Jefferson in the fact that it’s a choice of staying or going in search of something better. And the choice that affected most of me was whether I stay in 4H and continue to show horses or do I pursue my passion for football. For years, I had made many friends in 4H and the ideals have made me the person I am today. It has taught me many things including payment in donuts is acceptable for manual labor and quite frankly the best form of payment. I learned to skills of teamwork trust and how to help my community.
However, it also gave me many bonds that will never be broken, but when it came to showing it was something I was “talented” at basically meaning I did not fall off… that often however it got to a point where I was not enjoying it as much as when I first started along with many competitions I had were out of state, and so I constantly had to travel it was to the point in which we were going to move in order to just make it easier on me and I felt as though I was a burden and that all I brought with these shows that I’d get invited to. Was just making everyone else’s life in my family harder and more complex which like Jefferson when he was in jail the decision he made affected the surrounding people just as much if not more than his decision but like Jefferson when I finally gave in to grant I told my parents I did not want to show anymore and although I miss the competition, the crowds, and the many interesting people I met I know I made the right decision.
African Americans and many minorities alike lived in a society of constant fear, and although it has gotten a lot better since the times of slavery, sharecropping, and jim crow. When looking into America’s past and seeing these blemishes in the history of what’s supposed to be the land of the free. Throughout America’s history discrimination towards minorities of all kinds are prevalent, and over time things have improved. However, toward the African American community and a few others’ discrimination is still present in today’s society. As many of these people are forced to live in poverty and have to work twice as hard for everything earned and the reason I use earned instead of given is that nothing was “given” to them they fought for everything they had and still do to this day.
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