Week 1 (2011): A Lesson Before Dying

Greetings, My New AP Lit Babies!

This week’s discussion will involve establishing personal connections with Gaines’ A Lesson Before Dying.

To that end, there are several questions I’d like you to consider.  Your original post must include answers to at least two of them.

A Lesson Before Dying

  1. All the characters in A Lesson Before Dying are motivated by a single word: “hog.” Jefferson’s attorney has compared him to a hog; Miss Emma wants Grant to prove that her godson is not a hog; and Jefferson at first eats the food she has sent him on his knees, because “that’s how a old hog eat.” How are words used both to humiliate and to redeem the characters in this novel?
  2. For all the book’s religious symbolism, the central character is a man without faith. Grant’s refusal to attend church has deeply hurt his aunt and antagonized Reverend Ambrose, whose religion Grant at first dismisses as a sham. Yet at the book’s climax he admits that Ambrose “is braver than I,” and he has his pupils pray in the hours before Jefferson’s death. What kind of faith does Grant acquire in the course of this book? Why does the Reverend emerge as the stronger of the two men?
  3. Grant believes that black men in Louisiana have only three choices: to die violently, to be “brought down to the level of beasts,” or “to run and run.” How does the way in which Gaines articulates these grim choices–and suggests an alternative to them–make A Lesson Before Dying applicable not only to Louisiana in 1948 but to the United States in 2011?
  4. From the manslaughter that begins this novel to the judicial murder at its close, death is a constant presence in A Lesson Before Dying. We are repeatedly reminded of all the untimely, violent deaths that have preceded Jefferson’s and, in all likelihood, will follow it. Why then is Jefferson’s death so disturbing to this book’s black characters, and even to some of its white ones? What does Jefferson’s death accomplish that his life could not?

That’s it for now.  Your original post is due by 10:00pm on Wednesday, August 17th. Your response to at least two of your classmates’ posts is due by 10:00pm on Sunday, August 21st.

As always, I am here should you need me.

Happy Blogging!!!


Mrs. S

207 thoughts on “Week 1 (2011): A Lesson Before Dying

  1. 1) Today in class my teacer called this girl a hog, i’m sure he meant that she eats like a pig but after reading this book I would never call anyone that word. Jefferson was called a hog so much he actually started to believe that he was. How humiliating to have your whole town look at you as a hog. That in court instead of your lawyer saying “My client is innocent” they say “he couldn’t of done it, he’s a hog.” To stupid to commit a crime, he’s not even a man. He started to entertain the idea which wasn’t good at all. It was nice to see that the same thing that tore him down became a motive for him. In the end he was a man.

    2)Rev. Ambrose is emerges stronger than the other two simply because of his faith in God. “You can do all things through Christ which strengthens you.”Grant doesn’t even believe anymore. Its sad because it hurts his aunt. I think thats the main reason why she talks to him the way she does. Grants faith in the Lord slowly comes back. I have to say it was weird that someone who doesn’t believe in God spends most of there time in a church. But I believe because of Jefferson thats why Grants aith grew stronger. Even though Grant admits that Rev. Ambrose is braver they both were brave enough to take the challenge of making Jefferson a man.

    • I know exactly which teacher called that person a hog, and which student it was….how ironic is it that the teacher was white. When i heard the teacher say that, even I took offense!

    • Even if your teacher may have meant it in a non-demeaning manner, they still should have never said it, because either way it’s offensive. This relates to the book in how people don’t think before they speak they just say things based on instinct.

      • But many others will say it either way, some people are made to say comments about just so they can feel better for themselves, and they lack more respect. People these day are very devious, and of course that relates to the book. It doesn’t deal with Jeffery, but it deals with whites. Whites doesn’t care if your big or small, they’ll call you anything just to feel high and mighty for themselves. Very vague of course.

    • @Jenni I agree, every word big or small has an underlying connotation rather we choose to adhere to it or not.

    • – As Human We Tend To Act Before Thinking And Usually Its Not With The Intention To Hurt Anyone But Thats Most Likely The Outcome .

  2. 1). The word “Hog” is used to degrade Jefferson because a hog is a wild lowly animal and for an attorney to refer to him as a hog is saying that jefferson is not to be even considered a man. What truly makes a man a man and seperates us from the animals? our morals and our conscience so who is the attorney to call him less of man when his actions make him less of a man and more like a wild animal. This also reddems the character because letting him know that he wasn’t a “Hog” and shall not be refered to as one helped him walk to that chair as a man, a human being and not an animal.

    4). Jefferson’s death is disturbing to many blacks and whites because an innocent man was about to be put to death and he isnt even allowed to feel as though he is human. He had been classified as not worthy enough. His aunt that had raised him wanted him to know other wise and for him to stand strong in the face of death. His death put into the minds of others that capital punishment should’nt be the answer and that even the innocent can be a victim. No one has the right to serve their own form of justice.

    • Who is the attorney to call Jefferson a hog? What does calling Jefferson a hog, explain about his character? Does that make him more of a man because he states Jefferson is no less than an animal? The attorney should have helped his client the best way he can to win the trial. Instead, he reduced him to a boy not worthy to society.

      • I agree with Imana. The attorney had no right to call Jefferson a Hog because who is to say that he himself is not a Hog too. He was not interested in helping the poor boy. I believe he was only there to make him feel even less than what he felt at that moment.

        • @kourtney yes and no.what the lawyer said was wrong,but you insulting him makes your r ebuttle no better than his motive..

          • At the same time, the attorney should have to call him a hog because, he’s no one better. The attorney should understand that we all are no different, we are humans like everyone else, but Jefferson never thought that way, and that’s what cause the word “hog” to hurt him. If he calls Jefferson a hog, then he’s calling everyone a hog, including himself. The attorney was not using his intelligence by calling him that. He was being very impetuous.

            • At the same time, the attorney shouldn’t have to call him a hog because, he’s no one better. The attorney should understand that we all are no different, we are humans like everyone else, but Jefferson never thought that way, and that’s what cause the word “hog” to hurt him. If he calls Jefferson a hog, then he’s calling everyone a hog, including himself. The attorney was not using his intelligence by calling him that. He was being very impetuous.

      • I agree. And i think that it was the attorney who set the whole disturbance issue in place because he as a supposed defender of justice to speak such a bold degrading term in the court about his own client brought attention to the unfavorable treatment of the races in such an unsightly way.

    • – I Strongly Agree With You On Question One Because Even Though The Attorney Has Higher Authority Over Jefferson By Him Calling Jefferson A “hog” That Only Makes Him Look Like A “hog” Just As Much As Jefferson Does .

  3. 2. The further you get into the book the more you see a certain change take over Grant. At a certain point in the book he says that he’s not sure if he belives in God. All those years at school he was most likely taught to belive in what you can see. There’s logic to everything. I think what cause him to realize God must be real is seeing and realizing all the hurt and pain the people on the plantation wen through everyday. How could you live wihtout something to belive in? Something that you can look forard to sending you blessings? You would almost be forced to belive that theres something better somewhere. I think he gains a little chiristianity and he belives the Rev. is stronger because he takes on peoples burdens and makes them his own. He is also able to walk with Jefferson to the chair.

    3. In the story Grant is taught that black men in the south only have three choices: to run and run, to be treated as beasts, or to die a violent death. The story was set in the 1940’s but this process can still be applid to a 2011 society. If you think about it black people still try to migrate North. Let’s be honest. There is less rascism up North…even today. You can also get paid more up North then in the South. Secondly compare how many black men die a year to any other race… It’s much higher. With most of the murders being black on black crimes it’s almost impossible to get out of the circle. Secondly if we do choose to stay down here there is also the possibility that we will encounter a rascist boss, teacher or co worker that will try to belittle us in any way possible. Alot of what Grant said still goes .

    • I agree with Shayla life in the south is harder than life in the north. Not saying that life isn’t hard period but it just seems a little less racism in the north.

    • I disagree with the “There is less racism up North” statement. Many southerners believe this only because this is what they have been taught to believe based on history. But there is definitely racism up North, and it’s not only between blacks and whites. Many people think that racism is only between those two groups. But personally I know that up North the racism is more hidden, while in the South it’s more out in the open. Which is another reason why people think this. Also life isn’t harder in the South, that’s another stereotype. Life is only hard if you make it.

  4. 1)In A Lesson Before Dying, Jefferson’s attorney compared him to a hog. Comparing a human being to something as low as a mud eating hog is very degrading! Not only is he going to get killed, but he was receiving verbal abuse as well. That brought his spirits down even worse. When Jefferson made the statement that a hog don’t eat chicken, it could tell that those harmful words actually hurt him and wounded his heart. Is this what kind of world we have? To view animals more highly than human beings??

    4) The death of Jefferson was a significant death, in the sence that he made his mark in life. Although many people died in the book, the death of Jefferson was the most painful. For it was innocent blood that was killed. His death was due to racism from the white man. They killed him simply because he was black. Which is such a pity!

    • Jefferson’s death was indeed a pity. Its just really terrible that people are still dying because of racism. It only makes me think about how many innocent people there is in jail right now who honestly didn’t commit a crime. It makes it worst when the reason your in jail is because of the color of your skin. No one controls the color of the skin except for white’s who get tans. At one point in my life i would love to see a RACISM FREE usa but that might not ever happen.

      • Aj is sooo right. It’s crazy how white people want to get tans now. But back during segregation no one wanted to black or even a hint darker then their original complexion. I mean just look at Jersey Shore, these white, Italian kids look like light skinned black people..Tragic!

      • I totally agree aj! I mean look at Casey Anthony! Come on now. People who deserve to be in jail, better yet prison NEED to be there because they were wrong, but as far as innocent people, its not fair!

      • I truly agree, this world have too many obstacles but many doesn’t know how to get through them, we have to get through the easy way or the hard way, and the ones that are in jail are getting it the hard way, or hard as permanent as cement. We just gotta wish the innocent ones the best to their advantage.

  5. 1. I feel that the word “hog” was not used to humiliate Jefferson. In my opinion it was used by his lawyer to defend him. All though it was rude and racist, he didn’t know any better, he knew what he was taught and that was that blacks should be treated with NO RESPECT. Even though it wasn’t used to embarrass Jefferson, he was humiliated and started to believe that he was no better than an “old hog”.

    4. Jefferson’s death was quite disturbing, due to the fact that everyone knew he was innocent from the beginning. I thought it was sad that he was just at the wrong place, at the wrong time. I don’t blame him for standing around after the shooting he was just in shock. The whites think of it as a white mans life is now gone, so we must take a innocent black mans life away.

    • Good point Sydney ! I forgot to add that he was innocent in my response! That definitely made his death more disturbing.

    • @ Sydney B-Schofield.
      You had a good response.From your opinion,I kinda look different at novel.Although his lawyer used the word to defend him. The lawyer down-graded Jefferson.Which your right,He began to think he was,but the lawyer could have taken another approach. Instead of saying he’s a hog and have no knowledge.

  6. 1) The word “hog” was used to humilate Jefferson by comparing him to a sloppy filthy animal. He began to act out in ways that would agree with the derogatory term. He began to eat food off the floor, would only eat food that he felt was “hog” food, etc. But in the end it helped to redeem him, because Grant taught him that he wasn’t a “hog” and if he was going to die, he should die with dignity, not by submitting to oppression of the whites.
    3) This is still applicable to modern times, because racism hasn’t ended. In the ’40s, which is time period this book is set in, racism was out in the open and people didn’t hide the fact that they were racists. This made black men feel that they had to hide themselves and their families from the public in order to stay alive or not be persecuted and humiliated. So this is why they ran. Black men today feel that they must “run away from the eyes of the public” because they are always looked at with negative connotations. They feel that no matter how hard they try to progress, someone will be there to downgrade them and eradicate all of their hard work.

    • I agree with number three because it is a great explanation of the prompt. As a minority, the majority are always plotting against you. Several black men were-and are- afraid of failure or humiliation and choose to run. It is the cycle that Grant states, in the book, that will never end. I believe that as well. As long as they are afraid, they will continue to run.

    • I agree with the statement that racism still exist today. It might not as be as open and out there as it used to be but its still there, especially in secluded towns.

  7. 3. I believe in A Lesson Before Dying Gain shows us the way Grants depicts the life of blacks during this time because it was he knew. And although violence is nothing like it was back in Luisianna back in the 1900s it is still some what the same. We still get treated differently in prisons and in the job fields. Most of this is because of the way black people represent them selves now. We have people sagging their pants and disrespecting women and their own race.

    • I agree completely with Cherish! I here too many times, “Oh they got money because they white!” or “OH, is it cuz I’m black?!” Maybe whites work harder for what they want or they present themselves a WHOLE lot better. Black people only like to complain thinking that things are just going to fall in their laps! It is unfair how people mistreat black people sometimes but, like Cherish said, “most of it is because of the way black people represen themselves now.”

      • I believe its all apart of the way things were brought to us growing up. I guess it was all “oh yea! they’re white and they live in big houses, so who are the people like us to matter” you know? I mean we have that demeanor that that’s how things are supposed to be.

  8. 1. In a lesson before dying the word hog was used to belittle Jefferson’s intelligience. His attorney made it seem as though he wasn’t capable mentally of planning anything. However in the end he used the word as empowerment, showing those who doubted him that they underestimated the wrong one.

    2. Throughout the book Grant had a hard time believing in God, but as he teaches jeffesrson how to be a man he ends up learning a few things himself. Grant didn’t believe in heaven but jefferson’s death triggered a belief of a beter place

    • @Michaek Bolden
      It’s a good point about Grant not believing in heaven,but at the end of the story he started to find that may be Jefferson is better off in a place where he’s no longer hurting or being discriminated against.

    • I disagree with part of your second response. I think Grant believed in God, or at least some higher entity the whole time. He just thought that God/the entity did not care about the blacks’ suffering. But like you said, after working with Jefferson, Grant obtained new bound faith.

  9. 1.) In the story, the word “Hog” is used to humiliate Jefferson by the white attorney by comparing him to a incompetent filthy animal. When he said that they might as well send a hog to the chair,it was as if Jefferson’s life had no true value to it.Similar to how most humans don’t value the lives of animals,and we send them to slaughterhouses without feeling guilty. However, Grant manages to show Jefferson that he actually is somebody and convinces him to walk on two feet like a man rather than on four hooves like a hog.

    4.)I think Jefferson’s death is disturbing to all the black characters in the book because they know he was innocent. They probably look at it as “If he were a white man it would be different”,which both saddens and angers them. i think the whites in the story are affected by it too because deep down inside they know that it’s pure racism,and its wrong.

    • I completly agree Kase!! The hardest part of this book was accepting that it was all leading up to the death of an innocient man and i think that in the end Jefferson was the strongest man to accept the fact that you have to not only die at the hands of someone who has no respect for your life in the first place but also for something that you were to shocked to run away from…thats some deep stuff so i think Jefferson was the strongest for overcoming

  10. 4. In jeffersons death he accomplished dying as a man. Black people were treated as no bodies during this time and although he didnt do the crime the fact that he stood up and faced the punishment and understood he was man and not a hog made his death an accomplishment not only to him but to other blacks as well.

    • @ Cherish Riley
      I feel as though you had a great blog.I agree with you that Gain shows a black person life through one persons point of view(Grant).I also agree with your statement as to how we have some blacks that act this way. But we also have some that dont and get judge according to other peoples standards.

    • @Cherish Riley
      I believe that it’s also the responsiblity of the black people after him to also have the courage to earn the same respect Jefferson did by having the courage to stand up for themselves. Jefferson’s death is meaningless unless they learn from his death to find that they are more than just a race of people that are seen as merely animals.

    • @Cherish Riley yes during that time black’s were treated unfair but did that mean they had to suffer for a crime they did not commit? I agree with you saying Jefferson’s death accomplished many things for his race and noticing that he did die as a man.

    • I’m with you on that one Cherish!
      Black people were overly mistreated. On the other hand he did experience being a man. Not just to himself but as a role model to others as well.

  11. 1) I honestly think that Jefferson’s lawyer did not mean to offend Jefferson, intentionally. I think his was trying to manipulate the jury. Then again how could you call someone a “hog” without offending them? As we all read many people were hurt by that one word. Yet, it changed them for the better. Without the lawyer saying that, Jefferson would have not acted in such a nonchalant manner, Miss Emma would not have asked Grant to teach Jefferson how to be a man.

    2. In the beginning, Grant asked Taint Lou why should he believe in God? Feeling like God never did anything for the black man. So I think he just felt like it was the right thing to do by praying for Jefferson. I don’t think Grant realized how much he had grown over the course of those months. In my opinion, Grant came out to be stronger than the Reverend. The reverend did not have what took to understand Jefferson like Grant. He tried to force religion on Jefferson, when in all reality everyone may not won’t or can’t believe in the higher power. You have to help that person understand their self, Grant did just that.

    • 1.) Wow Destiny it would be you to say exactly what I thought. I really do feel that Jeffferson’s lawyer was not trying to embarass nor hurt Jefferson, but while trying to convince the jury he ended up convincing Jefferson also. Well I basically totally agree with your whole response to #1, because what seemed to cause pain soon caused growth within Jefferson as a person.

    • @Des Cheeks…..I do also agree…It was not the attorney’s intention to harm both Jefferson and Miss Emma with his words, in fact he was trying to help him get off, but with the use of the word hog, he had made a deep incision into Jefferson’s self worth. He luckily was able to recover with help, but a something as simple as a three letter word can hurt someones soul.

      • I think that, even though the lawyer defended Jefferson, he meant what he said. Maybe he was appointed to defend Jefferson. Of course he has to defend Jefferson, but he wasn’t going to do it in a respectful manner.

    • You make a good argument concerning who emerges as the stronger man, but do you really think that a man who runs from every uncomfortable situation he is placed in is truly stronger than the man who chooses to give hope to a people, HIS people, who have none? Grant may be the successor when it comes to getting through to Jefferson, but how can a cowardly man really be considered a man at all?

    • @DesCheeks
      Your second response explains it all. I totally agree with what you said. But does the same rule apply for kids. Should religion be forced on them or should the have the opportunity to decide for themselves what they want to believe in?

    • @Des Cheeks I strongly agree with your views about the misleading word usage of “hog”. Yes it did play as a strong key factor of this story but I do feel that the lawyer was still wrong for using it just to get his point across to the jury.

  12. 1.In my opinion a hog is a filthy creature and they are renowned for their filthy characteristics. To compare a man, or any human being to an animal such as this for whatever reason is beyond disrespect, and is not only inconsiderate but inhumane as well. I believe that if you plant in someone’s mind that they are something they eventually believe I themselves. For example, Africans and their descendants were enslaved for centuries in a foreign country being told that they were any and everything except human and civilized as their “superior” white masters. Initially the Africans did not comply, however somewhere in time they began to believe that they were inferior to the Anglo-Saxon race and that it was their place to be treated as beasts and slaves. Jefferson probably never referred to himself as a hog until he was called one by his lawyer. Jefferson was humiliated! When he brought himself down to the level of a hog and began to eat the meal his aunt had prepared for him he had put thought into his predicament, to the predicament in which his family was in an had been for so many years, how his entire race was demeaned to a beast with no logic or reason, and he accepted it. The black race has accepted what we’ve been told we are for too long and it’s time we become what we to be; set our own standards for what we aspire to achieve. It’s factual that we’ve come a long way from slavery but how far have we come really? Ms.Emma stated that her reason for Grant visiting Jefferson was so he could walk to the chair with his head held high as a man, not as a hog. Jefferson went to that chair as a man because he came to the realization that he was not a hog and that whether or not he believed he was a hog at one point in time or not he was going to please not only himself but those he left behind; something hogs don’t possess the mental capacity to realize.

    4.When we as a nation accept the death penalty as a punishment into our society we are taking on the role of God. We are no better than those who we believe “deserve” to be put to death. If a man is sentenced to the electric chair for committing homicide, what exactly is the term that we are using to justify killing a man for? Justice? Equality? Is it  a lesson learned? How is someone to learn a lesson of they are dead? As the audience of the novel we know for certain that Jefferson is innocent of murder, however the characters in the book have no real justification or proof except Jefferson’s reputation. I believe Jefferson’s death was so disturbing to both the black and white citizens because it is inhumane to broadcast someone’s death like it is entertainment; to make a decision when it’s time for a person to be demolished. The black citizens were obviously devastated because they knew Jefferson, however I think the whites were effected because who wouldn’t feel some feeling of reloaded for actions so cruel? To try and carry on with your normal day and hear the sound of a machine being assembled and to know that it was to put someone to death in a matter of moments is very disturbing in itself whether they could relate or even showed compassion towards Jefferson personally.

    • @Co-Co (Courtney Napier)
      I very much agree with the question opposed, ” How is someone to learn a lesson of they are dead?” I too am opposed to capital punishment, and do not believe that it solves much of anything. Though some do get the death penalty that are guilty, many also get it whom are innocent. To avoid this we should eliminate it all together and allow God his rightful duty of punishing those who have done wrong.

  13. 1.Its horrible that the lawyer had to use the approach of calling Jefferson a hog to prove his innocence. The word itself degraded him and was used to show his lack of intelligence to plan a murder. In the end it only helped him to become stronger because he himself realized that a man walks on two feet and a hog walks on four hooves.

    4.Jeffersons death is disturbing to black people because in acutality he was innocent and while being defended he was called a hog. It is disturbing to white people because I think they really did know he wasn’t guilty and his death was on their conscience. Jeffersons death accomplished that he was a man and would not be content with being a hog.

    PS I would like to note that I finished before 10 but . . . . the spam notice ruined it. twice :/ OMG the madness. Good thing i decided to copy and paste this time

  14. 2. Throughout the book I think Grant always had faith but was scared to show our admit it because he felt like having faith or even believing in God did him no justice. Reverand Ambrose emerged to be the strongest of the two men because of how strong his faith was. When Jefferson asked Grant about God, I think Grant realized that maybe there is there was really a God; especially when Jefferson asked if there was a heaven for coloreds, I feel like he cried because he knew better than to have completely forgotten about God.

    4. I think Jefferson’s death is disturbing to the book’s black characters and even to some of its white ones is because of Jefferson’s humbleness and because of how much he grew into a young man. Jefferson’s death accomplished Grant and his aunt getting closer again. His death also accomplished the true meaning of a young man; I think before the whole situation happened, he still had that child’s mentality.

    • @Kendralyn I agree with your response to number two. I felt through out the book Grant believed in God, just too afraid to admit. He may have been scared to admit it, because of the pain he seen blacks endure, and the actions of whites. Which led him to believe God does not exist.

  15. 2) through the course of this novel Grant goes from “not believing in anything” to believing in his people and more importantly believing in himself i wont go as far to say that he believes in God but he does believe something now n is open to learn and to me Grant was stronger than the Rev. because it takes a strong man to admit his faults especially to another man that will put him down because he disregarded what he was saying in the first place and Grant becomes humble and that is true strength…..

    3) Gaines gives us examples of the three chocies in the beginning of the novel die violently with brother and bear, brought down to the level of beast with Jefferson, and to run and run with Grant. the alternative he gives is to be dignified and dont let anyone take your humanity from you now in 2011 we have the same three dilemmas except we kill ourselves now, we degrade ourselves,and we run but the things never change the only thing you can do is like the book keep your humanity and dont let anyone bring you down but at the same time you cant bring people down either……

    • I agree with your response to the third question. We do have the same three choices that are in the book. All we can do is keep own dignity. However, in this day and age most of us (black people) have thrown away morals and are throwing away our dignity.

    • @Chez.. I feel where your coming from but i think you shouild give Grant a little more credit he left the situation with alot more understanding of why his elders believed what they did so fiercely and he reall began to understand what it means to be a christian and he gained alot more respect for the rev as a man for like Asia said taking on peoples troubles and burdens and being strong for those around him..they dont make Reverends like that who truely believe in the welfare of his deciples anymore…

  16. Words are used to humilate blacks throughout the entire novel. There were even times when Jefferson humilated himself. His attorney downgraded him while defending.Stating “look at him, He cant plan this.Someone of knowledge would only be able to plan this.This right here is what we call a fool.Someone who fills up your stables.”While Grant was visiting Jefferson.He tells him that only human beings know, and they’re the ones that worry.Hogs cant do either. All this time up until Jefferson’s execution, Everyone thought it was no good. That he could never become a MAN walking to that chair. Jefferson’s death made an huge impact on everyones life,because noone thought he would be a man. The whites thought of him as dumb and a fool,as time went on they began to wonder what he was during all the time grant was visiting him. In the beginning of the novel Grant didnt care for him.later he began to want to help him and be his friend,while he was trying to teach Jefferson how to become a man,Jefferson was actually teaching him to be a man. his death made this impact because no one ever thought a fool could become a man.Jefferson’s execution displayed a man dying with diginity.

  17. 1)In this time, the word Hog had a deeper meaing.The word itself wasnt the core of Jeffersons loss of dignity, but the connotion in which it was used.Jefferson was born to work and recieved a minimal education in the process.When he realized his death was inevitable, he became at the mercy of the courts and the lawyer.When his lawyer called him a Hog,this was probably the first time Jefferson was incapable of ignoring the slur,and was publically defamated in front of his grandmother and aunt.On the contrary,Grant was able to overcome his prideful disposition and lack of self-belief while helping Jefferson salvage his manhood.
    4)Jefferson’s death forced everyone around him to re-evaluate their opinions,discriminations,and stereotypical ways of thinking.

    • D’Andre you took the words right out of my mouth. I also feel like when his lawyer called him a hog especially in front of his grandmother, a person that Jefferson pays so much respect to, I think that was when he felt like he was stripped away from his pride and dignity.

    • Yes, yes, i am in full agreeance with you D’Andre. It wasn’t the word, it was the mindset he was put in. And grant went through something while hepling jefferson, he learned how to become a better Grant. Just as you have said. Right on the Money D’Andre, Right on the Money 🙂

  18. 1.) His lawyer was trying to convince the jurry that he was basically inadequate and that he couldnt have pulled something like that but in the process he degraded him and that just to me shows the initial disrespect he had for him. He had a Lawyer that was only interested in winning a case and not the actual client and his innocence.

    2.) Well my opinion on that one is that he renewed Grants faith and he accually showed Grant how to be a man as well as learning his own self worth and accepting his own harshh realities which took alot.

    • @Meaurie: I think it helped him too. It made him realize his strengths as well as his weaknesses. When you realize your strengths and weaknesses, you can grow as a person.

    • Honestly, I don’t believe that the lawyer cared whether he won that case or not. I was already expecting Jefferson to be considered guilty simply because he was black! I also noticed that you failed to put how the word “hog” redeemed Jefferson.

  19. 1.)Jefferson was clearly made an a** (donkey lol) out of during the court room scene. When you’re considered a lower-class, black male in a room full of white racists, in the midst of death, you’re GOING to be humiliated. Jefferson was called a hog and he took this very literally, trying to act like a hog in jail. With one word, the dude lost any feeling of self-worth and dignity.
    Later on, he realized the difference between being a hog and a man and thought being a man before death was more suitable. Not to mention, Grant had to use WORDS to spark any confidence in Jeff. What was he gonna do; give him a massage or something to make him feel better? Jefferson wrote down words in a journal to uplift himself through self-expression.

    4.) Some black and white characters both KNEW that Jefferson was innocent. How much more disturbing can a system supposed to be used for justice is being used to put an innocent man to death?
    Some black characters also realized that the same unfair judgment can be done unto them too.
    Jefferson may not have experienced being a man for long, but it’s better that he died a man, than to not realize that he was a man had he lived longer. woot

    • Erik Mojica, I would most definitely have to agree with you when you said that Jefferson was made an a** out of in the courtroom by his own lawyer. Erik I do question the fact the when you emphasized that Grant had to use WORDS to help boost Jefferson’s confidence. I also feel like your sarcasm wasn’t needed because you made it seem like there was another way that Grant could have helped Jefferson; especially when Grant was already clueless as to how he was going to help Jeff with such little time that he had to live.

  20. “It became a challenge to the African American race to prove to the Caucasian race and Jefferson himself, that not only was he a man, but they were a strong, intelligent people, capable of more wisdom and comprehension than the white man gave them credit for.” @Kahlil
    Jefferson may have symbolized the black community, but he wasn’t used to prove that all blacks are strong, intelligent, wise, comprehensive people. One of the main causes of Jefferson’s death were two, ignorant, unintelligent black guys who shot a white guy. It’s absolutely absurd to say someone is intelligent based on their race.

    “This word (hog), when it’s used in this context, is just as bad as being called a slut, ugly, or a waste of a person.” @Amanda

    Having casual sex, being physically unattractive and being an “useless person” (whatever that is) is an illogical comparison to losing that human fire within you. Jefferson lost his mind, motivation, drive and willingness to live no matter what lies ahead.

    Btw, the ideas of being a slut, ugly or a waste of a person are heavily pressured in society. You see it all the time in that manipulative media of ours. These pressures in society have made disgusting, close-minded values and morals for people that are scared of being “ugly, slutty or a waste”.

  21. @Sydney Betty-Schofield i disagree because Jefferson lawyer said that he was a hog on purpose . I think the lawyer didnot care what he was saying as long as he was getting paid. That wasent no mistake of saying that and i agree on the part when u said that Jefferson started acting like a hog. Jefferson did start acting like a hog mentally and sometimes physically.

    @Cherish Riley i totally agree because in the world today boys are sagging and degrading women in music videos and everywhere else. We as African Americans want respect but how are we going to get respect if some of us are acting like fools and complete idiots.

  22. @Erik Mojica I totally agree with what you said 🙂 It’s better for him to have died as a man rather that trying to figure it out fir the rest of his life.

  23. I agree with A.J…no one chooses the color with which we were born. I also find it ironic how whites discriminated against us and still do today,however they’ve imitated our culture; from our music to our fashion. It seems that theymre criticism is just pure jealousy against our race.

  24. @Sydney B-Schofield, I agree the term “hog” was not used to humiliate Jefferaon by his attorney. Had the attorney called Jefferson a man, many whites (including the judge) probably would have been highly upset. This would only make the situation worse. On the other hand, I do believe that in jail Jefferson took the word “hog” and made a bad name for blacks. He basically proved the whites opinion about blacks right.

    4. Jefferson’s death was disturbing because a young, innocent man was killed due to a crime he did not commit. Jefferson’s death taught other blacks that they were not hogs, they were people. Before he died he learned he was a “Man” not a “hog”.

  25. @ Nikeya Denson : I agree with you when you said everyone let the word “hog” get to the best of them but if the word “hog” would have never been said I’m sure the story would have been completely different since thats what brought all the tension in the story.

    @Aspen : I agree with you with pretty much saying how the media has influenced the young Black men & its sad how it easily brain washed people because not only it influences the black race but also people around them because they get the idea thats how black people should be.

  26. @Chae D
    I believe the whites were more disturbed with the way Jefferson was going to die, then the actual death.

    @Asia Martin
    I completely agree with what you said about the reverend being a stronger man. Even though grant did gain strengh throughout the course of the novel he always ran away. He doesn’t want to stay and try to give hope to his people (like the reverend).He even had to be begged to help Jefferson. The reverend never gave up hope, and that’s what makes him the overall stronger man.

  27. “Erik I do question the fact the when you emphasized that Grant had to use WORDS to help boost Jefferson’s confidence. I also feel like your sarcasm wasn’t needed because you made it seem like there was another way that Grant could have helped Jefferson; especially when Grant was already clueless as to how he was going to help Jeff with such little time that he had to live.”

    Really…I seemed sarcastic? Well… it also seems like on page 67.3454 in very minuscule font, it says
    “Grant invented a time machine for Jefferson to go back before the crime so he wouldn’t have to go through an execution!”

  28. 4. Both the blacks and the whites knew that Jeffersons’ death was wrong. Being not only wrongfully accused, but also being called out of your name, is both degrading and unfair.
    Growing up as a black ‘boy’, and hoping to eventually become a ‘man’ was very hard. Degrading names, little to no self esteem, would not not only make it hard but almost made it impossible.
    What a ‘justice’ system that we have. Sad to say that it still hasn’t changed much.

    • I totaly agree with you Jewel, No matter what time period, this old system still hasnt changed. sometimes i ask myself, When will we truly be free?

    • @jewel washington i agree with some of your post because growing up as a black boy is very hard in america period and our justice system system still hasn’t changed but despite the whole world going against us. We still overcome and become men.

    • your response to this question makes a lot of sense and its truly a shame that things haven’t changed and its been over 5o years since that time period

  29. (1) The word “hog” begins as a humility tactic to try and get Jefferson off but comparing him to the animal did more damage than good as the boy was convicted feeling as a condemned beast. The other characters of the quarter were also disturbed and humiliated by this as, i believe, that the word was directed to all those who were in the situation. The word then takes a 360 and becomes like an inspirational obstacle for them to overcome to prove they are just as much apart of “man” as anyone else.

    (4)Jefferson’s death is disturbing because to call a man a “hog” and then sentence him to death like a he’s not even a person was just so blatantly disrespectful that people on both sides of the spectrum were questioning their morality. It was obviously evident that he was going to be condemned but the way it was brought about was too much to leave alone without someone voicing their opinion.

  30. I agree with Sydney. The way that Jefferson dies and the injustice of the situation was what disturbed not only the black characters but the white characters as well. I also think that the fact that it was a shameful act to sentence him to death is what made some white characters pity Jefferson.

  31. 1.”The word”hog” was used to humiliate Jefferson because he is said to be nothing but a “hog”. Jefferson knew not what to call himself before hand, but he knew he wasn’t as low as a hog. When he was reffered to as such, he started to believe it. Which in turn, degraded his part as a man, from what miss emma thought. So in the beggining, pretty much everyone was offended by that word. At the end however, that one word made a domino effect on jeffersons life. In a way, i believe it made him the strongest man he had ever been. ”

    4. In retrospect [watch your spelling, baby girl ;)], i believe Jefferson’s death brought out the true life of a black man during the 1940s, in louisianna. Better yet, a black man period, no matter the timing or place. People began to really see what happens when you simply make a mistake being a black man in the world. And not only did the black man see it, the white man saw it, the creole man saw it, the guptee whopdee dooo saw it too. Everybody got a sense of what it felt like to be a black man in America at that time. America the Free? No, its America the Few.

  32. I also agree with Des Cheeks Grant was the stronger of him and Reverend Ambrose. Because he stood by what he believed and not what his aunt and the rev. told him to. He helped Jefferson by being there for him and not cramming his beliefs into his head. He just showed him the way to being a man by example.

  33. 1) The word “hog” was used to humiliate and motivate Jefferson. It was used to humiliate him by comparing him to a selfish, gluttonous animal. But then again the term motivated him to become more of a man, everybody knew Jefferson was going to die so he wanted to take this opportunity to show everyone just because the white men called him a hog doesn’t mean he has to die like one.

    4) Jefferson death was so disturbing to blacks and some whites because they knew Jefferson was innocent and was treated unfairly. The accomplishment of his death against his life was that his death helped him to strive to be more of a up man. He also proved that blacks was strong and determined. Even when we facing death.

    • @osh I agree with your response the word hog was used to belittle jefferson in the beginning and also the attorney used it to try to save him but he went to the lowest of lows to do so.

  34. 2) for one all of the black men are being thrown into jail, for petty crimes or no crime at all, so its now the black mans mentality to either run or be the beast they want youy to do


  35. 1. Being called a “hog” in front of a whole courthouse by the one person that was there to defend you is very humiliating . Jefferson couldnt defend himself because he was taught to respect whites . the people in the jail house referred to him as a “hog” so much that they began to treat him like one . But Miss Emma knew she didnt raise a “hog” and she wasnt about to let him die thinking he was a “hog” . The name calling and bad treating motivated Jefferson to show everybody that just because the white man call and treated you like a “hog” that doesnt mean you have to die like one .

    4. Jeffersons death is disturbing to blacks and some whites because they all know an innocent “man” was about to be electrified for something he didnt do . Jeffersons death accomplished the fact that just because a white man tells you your nothing doesnt mean you arent anything . Jefferson couldnt prove to the world that he wasnt a man so he had to die like one .

  36. I believe Jeffersons life accomplishes pride because he didn’t live like he wanted to. He had nothing to be really happy of. He didn’t really learn anything and I think by him dying it showed pride. He proved people wrong, he died with dignity

  37. 4) well to the blacks jefferson dying a man is very important. What his death is saying is that blacks can defy the stereotypes, beliefs, and disrespect the white man gives them. Its significant to most of the white men the time period the lesson before dying is set in because it shows they dont have the power as they thought and that this weak puny race is actual worth somehing. So i probably scares them.

  38. @Selene I totally agree with you on the your second point that it is sad that people are still in the mind set of either i run or die violent ways or act like animals and it is sad that many people are still doing it and although we would like to think its not happening the reality is that it is happening ever where and we just don’t care enough to look

    @Aspen I understand the point that you are trying to make in your second argument but i don’t think that is the only people that they have to look up to that are black they have many good and productive black men that they can look up to and see that they don’t only have to be this but they can also be that its just that no one is there to point them in the right direction or people are maybe always saying stuff to put them down and they just don’t believe in that anymore

  39. 1) Jefferson’s mental stability was the only way of proving his innocence? Being called hog is another way of being called a dunce. In the situtation that Jefferson was in, his lawyer discreetly used his hoggish ways as a defense. Portraying he doesnt have the brains to do anything productive.
    4) Just because of Jefferson was at the wrong place at the wrong time and his skin color he was sentenced the death penalty. Most blacks at the time figured because of his race, a innocent man had to die.

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