Concepts Angle of Interpretation and Colorism in A Lesson Before Dying, a Book by Ernest J. Gaines

Last Updated: 09 Jan 2023
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A Lesson Before Dying is a book written by Ernest J. Gaines. The author filled the story with many injustice acts, blaming an innocent person to deal with the consequence. In this paper, I will describe concepts angle of interpretation, how Jefferson, where his lawyer classified him like a hog, was found guilty of a murder he did not commit. And colorism, how the same race gets treated differently by their skin color. I will show how both of these concepts are illustrated in A Lesson Before Dying. In the A Lesson Before Dying, the author depicts Jefferson as a hog within his community and in the court system. The angles of interpretation are defined as the different way one sees the world. In the community, the majority of people were Christians who believe in God. The Christians portrayed Grant as a hog, equivalent to being a devil, because he had poor values in his life. Further, in the story, Jefferson was accused of being a murder when a shooting occurred, and he was the last man standing. In the court trial, Grant's lawyer attempt to convey the idea of Jefferson being a hog in hopes to the persuade the jury he is not guilty. His method of representing Jefferson as to a hog was to show the Christians-filled jury he is no reasonable human being and a slow-witted person. As a hog. Jefferson would not have the ability nor be capable of planning out shooting. He is least likely to commit a crime. With the community angle of interpretation of Jefferson being a hog, the lawyer used this idea as a tactic to defend the Jefferson from being sentenced, but unfortunately, it was not a success. Colorism is defined as preferential treatment of same-race people based solely on their color.

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People are treated differently based on their skin color. For instance, the African Americans during the slavery times had racism amongst each other based on their skin. A person who had a darker skin complexation would receive the hard labor, whereas someone who has a lighter skin complexation would work in a household as a maid. The slave's owners were privileging of light skin over dark. Also, the same concept goes for the Americans, but in access to privilege. They differentiate from each other by their social status. Regardless of the same skin tone, the people did not have the same opportunity or were not all wealthy. In the A Lesson Before Dying, Antoine is a mulatto, a person whose parent is an enslaved black woman and a white slave owner. Antoine illustrates the problem of colorism because he felt superior to anyone darker than he. However, the blacks believed by having a lighter skin color are most likely to having been conceived in rape and oppression. Antoine had hatred for his people who are unable to protect him from this racism. In this paper, I had described concepts angle of interpretation and colorism and used A Lesson Before Dying to demonstrate them. The lawyer's angle of interpretation of Grant being a hog was to exemplify the jury that he lacks the common sense to commit a crime. Antoine depicts of the concept of colorism, where he believes he had more privilege than those were darker than him.

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Concepts Angle of Interpretation and Colorism in A Lesson Before Dying, a Book by Ernest J. Gaines. (2023, Jan 09). Retrieved from

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