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Is Grant A Hero In A Lesson Before Dying

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In the historical fiction novel A Lesson Before Dying written by Ernest Gaines, the main character Grant Wiggins was assigned the role of teaching a prisoner how to become a man. Not only did he teach Jefferson, the prisoner, how to be a man, Grant also taught him how to become his own hero. Even though Grant denied being a hero, his demonstration of hero-like qualities is what taught Jefferson to be an independent and dignified man. Over numerous visits to the jail, Grant became a hero by sacrificing his time, money, and efforts to accommodate Jefferson’s need for companionship. In the beginning of the book, Jefferson was unresponsive towards everyone. When Grant would try to speak to him and teach him how to become a man, Jefferson would just lay in his bunk and stare back. Jefferson would not even talk to his godmother, the woman who raised him and loved him unconditionally. “He looked …show more content…
During a visit when Jefferson was being particularly difficult and was not eating the food his godmother cooked him, Grant asked “Do you know what a hero is, Jefferson? A hero is someone who does something for other people… He would do anything for the people he loves, because he knows it would make their lives better” (191). When Grant said this, he was trying to build Jefferson’s self esteem by saying that he could become a hero if he ate and listened to his godmother. He was trying to explain that no matter Jefferson’s actions, if he showed his loved ones kindness and compassion, he could become a hero. Although Grant quickly added “I am not that kind of person. I could never be a hero” (191), he is exactly what he defined as a hero. Instead of spending more time with his girlfriend, aunt, or the schoolchildren he teaches, Grant chose to spend his time visiting Jefferson. Grant would do anything to make Jefferson’s life better before he died, and that made him a

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