To Learn Or Die? This book shows us that, even in the face of hopelessness, there is indeed hope, and there is a need to move forward. There is nothing that can change what the outcome will be in the end. However, in light of this, a person is left with two options.
Either they could deny and fight it the entire way, or accept it, learn from it, and move forward. This paper will show you,, when given this situation, what the outcome will be when one choices to accept it and move on.It is the 1940’s, in a small Cajun community, there is a trial for the murder of a white liquor store attendant. The defense is Jefferson, a poorly educated black man. His appointed attorney is closing his argument in an attempt to spare his client the death penalty.
- Thesis Statement
- Structure and Outline
- Voice and Grammar
His attorney states, “Gentlemen of the jury, be merciful. For God’s sake, be merciful. He is innocent of all charges brought against him. But let us say he was not. Let us for a moment say he was not. What justice would there be to take this life? Justice, gentlemen? Why, I would just as soon put a hog in the electric chair as this.” (p. 8) This statement suggests that Jefferson is no more aware of the situation than an animal that is about to be slaughtered.
Jefferson viewed this statement from his defense attorney as a literal one. Thus, he began to believe he was nothing more then a hog and that he would, in turn, show them just what a hog is. Jefferson later emulates this point in his jail cell, with Grant, awaiting his execution by stating,‘‘I’m an old hog… Just an old hog they fattening up to kill for Christmas.
I’m go’n show you how a old hog eat” (p.83). At this point, Jefferson then kneels down on the floor,places his head in the bag. While eating, he makes noises similar to that of a hog. Jefferson’s early interpretation of the title is a very graphic one.
It is that he is a hog. He must learn this before his execution and ultimately become the hog they have made him out to be. He intends to prove to everyone that he can become just what they claim he is. Throughout the novel, Jefferson, with Grant’s help, begins to change his view. He starts to see himself as a man; he begins talking to Grant, as opposed to insulting him.. Jefferson begins to write in a journal that Grant provides for him.
. In the journal, he explains his feelings and views. In the end, as Paul, the guard, says, “He was the strongest man in that crowed room.” (p.253) Jefferson achieves just what Ms. Emma wanted him to achieve. After his realization and acceptance of his upcoming death, Jefferson goes to his execution as a man, with head held high.
Grant Wiggins is a black school teacher.He is one of the only black men in the area with a college education. He is a withdrawn, sullen man.He’s angry, bitter, and disgusted by the prejudice brought about by the white men. His aunt, Tante Lou, is good friends with Jefferson’s godmother, Miss Emma. Miss Emma is outraged by the statement from the defense attorney.She knows, in her heart, that her boy is not a hog, so she pleads with Mr.
Henri, the sheriff’s cousin.Emma says, “‘I need you speak for me, Mr. Henri…I want the teacher visit my boy. I want the teacher make him know he’ not a hog, he’s a man.
I want him know that fore he go to that chair, Mr. Henri. ’ ” (p.21) Miss Emma is asking that Mr. Henri talk to the sheriff in her favor, hoping that the sheriff willallow Grant to see Jefferson, in order to teach him that he is a man. Grant’s understanding of the title is that it is his responsibility to teach Jefferson how to be a man. Early on he states, “They want me to make him a man before he dies.
” (p.31). Grant is at a conflict because he is unsure of how a man should live, let alone die. He knows that whatever he does do will not affect the fact that Jefferson will be executed. He is worried about the way the community views him.
They see him as a teacher with the ability to do just that, but what if he is not able to do that. What if he fails to teach Jefferson how to die? Then where does that leave him? He has no idea how, or what, to do in order to achieve that, however, throughout the course of the book, Grant does teach Jefferson and, in doing so, he teaches himself. His changes are, in whole, not large. He is still withdrawn and filled with prejudice, and he is afraid, to the.