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What Is A Man? Essay

1126 words - 5 pages

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. The true neighbor will risk his position, his prestige, and even his life for the welfare of others.”-MLK Jr. In the book A Lesson Before Dying, Ernest J. Gaines explores the relationship between a student and a teacher in Bayonne, Louisiana, in the 1940s, and how their actions affect the society they are living in. Jefferson, a young black man, is accused of a murder, and is sentenced to death because of his race. Miss Emma, Jefferson’s godmother, wants Grant Wiggins, an educated black teacher to “make him a man” before Jefferson dies. Even ...view middle of the document...

With the help of Grant, Jefferson grows to understand that he is not an animal, but a man. He realizes that if he stood up for what he believed in, then no one can tell him he cannot do something; and the only person who can bring him down is himself.
A man never blames someone else for what they did. A man always takes responsibility for his actions and owns up to what he did. In Jefferson’s diary, he says “i aint had no bisnes goin ther wit brother an bear cause they aint no good an im gon be meetin them soon”(Gaines 233). In the beginning, Jefferson thinks he is innocent and doesn’t deserve to die. Towards the end however, a part of him realizes that he should not have gotten in that car with Brother and Bear, and he accepts the fact that because he chose to go, he has to take responsibility for his actions and face whatever consequences lie ahead of him, no matter how unfair it seems.
A true man is always humble. He never thinks that he is better than everyone, and he always puts others before him and goes out of the way to try to help people no matter what difficulties he is facing. In the book, Grant explains to Jefferson what a hero is: “A hero is someone who does something for other people. He does something that other men don’t and can’t do. He is different from other men. He is above other men. …A hero does for others. He would do anything for people he loves, because he knows it would make their lives better” (Gaines 191). By Grant’s definition, a hero is someone who helps others, and will sacrifice himself to make his loved ones happy. Jefferson did exactly that. By eating the gumbo, letting Nannan hug him, and telling her he loves her, he made her happy since most of the time, he did not communicate with her in any way, or eat her food. Walking to the chair and dying a man not only made his Nannan proud, he made the whole black community proud too.:

Everyone has the potential to be great, but the only person who can determine what you...

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