“Sometimes painful things can teach us lessons we didn’t think we needed to know” – Unknown. During a time when there was segregation between black and white, it was often difficult to find hope and uphold positive outlooks on life. Also, with the separation between night and day, and the rich and poor it became obvious that many pointed fingers at certain groups for things that happened around the small town.
However, as ‘A Lesson Before Dying’ unfolds we saw a great number of lessons being learned from multiple characters. The lessons are within the words and actions of each character, displaying when and how they obtained their understanding and how completely different it is from another. Paul seems of a much less important character but many lessons are learned through him.
Through his interactions with Jefferson and his community, Grant develops his understanding of life broader than education teaches. Jefferson suffers from insecurity and self-scrutiny but by the end learns the meaning and value of dignity. Throughout this novel, we see Paul, Grant, and Jefferson who are three distinctive characters, learn three entirely different lessons from each other. The character Paul Bonin is a white deputy sheriff that works at the town’s Jail where Jefferson was being held and seemed to be the only one to treat him and Grant with respect. Even though his character had less of an importance in the story plot, his lessons shined through.
He learns that the white perception of black people and the idea of them being below in the hierarchy of white people is completely false. Also, throughout the entire book, he is the only white person to befriend Grant (a black man) which displays the effect of accepting others despite their physical or social differences and what he has learned and using it towards ending racist beliefs. His quote, “I don’t ever want to forget this day. I don’t ever want to forget him.” (Gaines 255) i.