In the novel, A Lesson before Dying, we meet two characters who are put into a situation by the dominant race and just have to deal. First you have Jefferson, a timid young man who was once minding his own business and one mistake of judgment will cost him his life. Then there is Grant Wiggins, a selfish, inconsiderate man who needs some direction on where his life is going. Slowly, the two of them form a bond with each other that helps them answer questions about life and what it means to be a man. .
My first impression of Grant was egotistical. He only thought of himself and no one else. He is an educated black man that lives in Louisiana and feels that his life should carry more meaning than just being a schoolteacher. Grant thinks that he is not making a difference with the children that he has taught and is still teaching. His attitude about things is rebellious; he does not want to be involved. Grant also feels that the world owes him something and all he has to do is go and get it; this is why he wants to run away with Vivian.
The first thing I thought about Jefferson was that he was just a black man who was at the wrong place at the wrong time and death would be his punishment for that; especially in a society where he is a second-class citizen to start with. In growing up, Jefferson was never taught the significance of judgment or how to use it; he was just taught how to live and survive in a world that hated him because of the color of his skin. Toward the end, he realizes how bad his judgment was when he says, "I aint had no bisnes goin ther wit brother an bear cause they aint no good."" (233) .
Grant seemed to be well respected in the quarter, and felt superior to other blacks there because he was more educated. The one thing that Grant failed to realize that even though he thought he was educated because he "went to college- (215), he did not know what was most important, where he came from and who his people were.