Ernest James Gaines: Commitment To Culture

946 words - 4 pages

All individuals are not just flesh and bones; important in every person is a system of values and beliefs. The philosophies that constitute an author’s creations are frequently devised from major elements of his or her own life. Ernest James Gaines, the author of numerous remarkable books in today’s literature, is a great example of a writer that parallels his life with his work. Specifically, Gaines chooses to focus on his depiction of Southern society back then (and now) to express his beliefs. In addition, his viewpoint of his African American community and background also allows him to communicate deeply universal themes of faith, courage, and dignity with his words. Therefore, Ernest ...view middle of the document...

Just as important, Gaines’s education and literary influences also provide a myriad of reasons behind his writing. Early in his life, Gaines attended elementary school for six years in a building with only one room and then attended a Catholic school afterward. Before he moved to California when he was fifteen, Gaines was deeply influenced by his single motherly figure in Louisiana—his Aunt Jefferson. Despite her handicapped condition, Augusteen Jefferson taught Gaines to be optimistic and to have dignity in their subservient positions within the South; chief components of his books today have focused on the act of dignity in a position of submission. Then, after he reluctantly moved to Vallejo, California, Gaines discovered the public library, where he initiated his interest in literature and writing. Subsequently, Gaines enrolled at Vallejo Junior College before enlisting in the army for two years. After he was discharged, Gaines attended San Francisco State College to study English, where his creative writing earned him admission to Stanford University. Following his return to Louisiana in 1962, Gaines truly believed that the post-slavery circumstances in the South deserved to be recognized; he was determined to capture the spirit of the South and its people (Guzzio) (Fiero).
If Gaines did not face the challenges he had to overcome in his early writing career, he would not be the author he is today. During his time at San Francisco State College, Gaines’s first piece of published work was found in the magazine Transfer in 1956. Following that year, he won the Wallace Stegner Award for Fiction, which pushed him to continue his career. Afterward, Catherine Carmier, Gaines’s first novel, was published in 1964 but did not gain much reputation, just like his second book Of...

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