Racism in "A Lesson Before Dying" plays a key role in the development of the story. The book takes place in 1940's Louisiana. It tells of a journey a black teacher, Grant, takes to teach a wrongfully convicted black man on death row, Jefferson, how to be a man before he dies.Different types of racism that that helped develop the character. The different types of racism shown are stereotypical racism, racism in the black community, and racism within oneself. .
To begin the book obviously has stereotypical racism. It frequently shows throughout the book. It shows in Bayonne, how everything is separated in business. It also shows in how the blacks are treated by whites in the town. Grant states," I followed them up the stairs to the back door"(Gaines 18). Since Grant, a black man, and his aunt and her friend, two black women, were entering a white man's house, they had to enter through the back like servants or slaves. Though this is the most frequently shown form of racism, it is not the only one.
The second type of racism is internalized racism, racism in the black community. The mulattos, white and blacked mixed, throughout the book believe they are better than the darker skinned black people. Grant's teacher Antoine states, " I am superior to you. I am superior to any man blacker than me,"(65). This is part of speech a mulatto makes during this book. The teacher was lighter in skin color, so he believe himself to be better. There is also one more type of racism in the book.
Lastly, there is racism inside the characters themselves. When Jefferson is first convicted, he blindly believes the black man and thinks that he is nothing and is a hog. And this is a derived from the fact that he was a black man facing death row. Grant revels in the fact that black men have not achieved what they needed to. He also wanted to run because he believed he was nothing and meant nothing to the town.